Alex Kovalev is ready to make his pre-season debut for the Canadiens. But it won’t be on a line with Robert Lang.
Kovalev was on the ice at practice this morning as the Habs prepare to open the home portion of their pre-season schedule tomorrow night when the Ottawa Senators come to town. Although oficially listed as a groin injury, Kovalev says it’s more of a tightness in the general area that kept him back at home as “Team B” travelled to Detroit for last night’s contest, which the Canadiens won 3-2 in a shootout.
Head coach Guy Carbonneau will blend his lineup for tomorrow night against the Senators, and that will include Kovalev on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn, who teamed up to form the club’s most effective forward unit last season. Which means Carbonneau has tempered his initial enthusiam to see Kovalev and Lang play together — the two were linemates in Pittsburgh as members of the Penguins. Lang will be among the healthy scratches tomorrow night.
For the opening three pre-season games, the coach has gone with a “Team A” and “Team B” concept. It’s Carbonneau’s plan trim down to his season-opening roster in time for the final handful of pre-season games, which means it’s just a matter of time before The Coach starts making some significant cuts to the 52-man training-camp contingent.
Kovalev was among a number of Canadiens on hand for yesterday’s announcement regarding the activities the club has planned leading up to the team’s Centennial Celebration, which will be held Dec. 4, 2009. Kovalev was modelling one of the six vintage jerseys the Canadiens will roll out for an assortment of games over the next 15 months.
Yesterday, the Habs unveiled a dazzling array of initiatives that have been planned to honor the team’s 100 years of hockey, including an initiative by the Royal Canadian Mint to strike a “Habs Loonie.” Canada Post will be issuing a Canadiens stamp, while the Upper Deck trading card company will release a set of 200 trading cards honoring the legends who have worn the CH over the last 100 years.
The possibilty of holding a game at the Olympic Stadium next season is still just that: a possibility. The team is currently in conversation with the NHL and Big O officials to hold a game at the Olympic stadium in the week leading up to the Dec. 4 celebrations.