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22 March 2007

Kovalev and Yashin la creme de la creme of the NHL's 4th liners...

Alexei Yashin (left) and Alex Kovalev (right) are the best 4th line players in the NHL

Alexei Yashin was demoted to the fourth line in Tuesday's game at Tampa Bay, as coach Ted Nolan was steamed that he did not cover Vincent Lecavalier in the second period, leading to a goal. "Whether it's our captain or not, you have to perform. At this time of the year, there's no excuses."

Alexei Yashin is now the most expensive 4th liner in the National Hockey League, beating out the Canadiens' Alex Kovalev by a $5 million margin.
Kovalev is making $4.5 million in Bleu, Blanc et Rouge this season whereas Yashin's always-famous 10 year/$90 million contract is still glaring brightly in Long Island.

Ironically, both players are underachieving and they're getting paid a lot of money to do so. But, both still remain top-notch players with Kovalev getting the slight edge, despite his inconsistency.

Yashin was well on his way to his best season since signing the second biggest deal in Islanders history (recently beaten out by Rick DiPietro's 15-year contract) until a knee injury put him out of action for a good period of time.
Since his return to the lineup, Yashin has only 2 points in 6 games, and is hardly the player he was in the first part of the season, as he formed a great duo with impending UFA Jason Blake, who's still going strong.

Kovalev was benched in a game against the Ottawa Senators a few weeks ago as the Canadiens dropped back-to-back games against the latter and falling lower in the playoff race, when he gave the puck away at his own blue-line, costing his team the game.

New York Newsday cites that he was benched for a nearly identical reason, as he did not cover Vincent Lecavaler who added to his league leading goal total and helped his team go 2-0 over the Islanders. The Islanders fought back with 3 consecutive goals from Richard Zednik, Richard Park and Miroslav Satan to take the lead but the Lightning still ended up winning in overtime.
The loss was costly as the Islanders fell to 11th place in the Eastern Conference, 1 point behind the 8th spot which is up for grabs by three teams (Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes)

Yashin has been an underachiever since he came to New York, fresh off outstanding season with the then-depleted Ottawa Senators, he was expected to produce big-time and put up all-star numbers, season-by-season.
He has not done that and up until today, he has been an average (for his salary) 60-70 point player for the Islanders and has not helped them advance past the first round of the playoffs.

The Russian-born player still remains however, a good tennis parter of owner Charles Wang...and the Russian-born Kovalev is excelling on the 4th line with Quebecois rookies Maxim Lapierre and Guillaume Latendresse, some even say it's been his best showing in a long time.

The move to the 4th line is likely temporary in Yashin's case, since excluding certain teams, as the Canadiens, Sabres and Stars, the 4th line doesn't get much ice time.

Alex Kovalev has 14 goals and 28 assists for a total of 42 points in 65 games this season, a considerable drop-off of the 65 he ammassed in 69 games last season.
Captain Yashin has 14 goals and 26 assists for a toal of 40 points in 48 contests.
Yashin has the slight advantage of a better entourage than Kovalev, who had to suffer with Sergei Samsonov and the used-to-be mediocre Tomas Plekanec on his side.

I don't think Samsonov is exactly Blake, but, nonetheless, both are underachieving, highly-skilled players.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

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