Jokerit Helsinki in 2017-18

What happened?  After finishing third in the KHL in 2015-16, the team’s second consecutive top-five finish since joining up in 2014, Jokerit Helsinki plummeted to twelfth in 2016-17, barely making the playoffs.  And their post-season stay was not a long one, ending after a four-game first-round sweep at the hands of CSKA Moscow.  So what went wrong, and what has been done to fix it?  Read on…

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Barys Astana in 2017-18

Barys missed the KHL playoffs, for the first time ever, in 2015-16, then got last season off to a terrible start before head coach Andrei Nazarov was fired in early September.  In came Eduard Zankovets, results began to improve, and the season that began so badly ended in the Kazakh team’s second-ever trip to the last eight in the playoffs.  But it has been a summer of deep changes, as two club legends head out, and yet another new coach arrives.  Can they get back to the post-season’s second round, or even its first?  Read on…

 

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HK Sochi in 2017-18

No team fell harder in 2016-17 than HK Sochi.  Coming off a fourth-place finish in the league, the boys from the Black Sea coast saw their team shooting percentage drop from 9.12% (ninth in the KHL in 2015-16) to 7.16% (fifth-worst).  They actually conceded fewer goals last season than in the previous, but that decline in sh% knocked their goals scored from 175 to 139, and sent HK Sochi to their first missed playoffs in the team’s three-year history.  And so there is a new coach behind the bench —  can Sergei Zubov fix things?  Read on…

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Salavat Yulaev Ufa in 2017-18

It was not too hard to spot the problem area for Salavat Yulaev in 2016-17: they put up the fifth-most goals in the KHL (169), … and still got out-scored (174 goals against).  As a result, one of the league’s perennial strong teams unexpectedly found itself battling just to make the playoffs.  They managed it, by five points, but were quickly dismissed by arch-arch-rivals Ak Bars Kazan in the first round.  Such disappointment meant changes, and those began with the arrival of veteran Finnish coach Erkka Westerlund to replace Igor Zakharkin.  What else has the Bashkir team been up to in the quest to regain their accustomed spot in the pecking order?  Read on…

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Admiral Vladivostok in 2017-18

After mourning the loss of a beloved club figure last summer, Admiral Vladivostok got down to business, and — for the third time in their four-year existence — qualified for the KHL playoffs.  The far-easterners have yet to make it out of the first round, mind you; can a burgeoning youth movement change that?  Read on…

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Slovan Bratislava in 2017-18

Slovan’s goal difference took a 28-goal swing for the worse last season over the previous campaign (from +6 to -22), but somehow managed to drop just four points in the standings.  Unfortunately for the team from the Slovak capital, that was enough for them to go from making the playoffs by six points to missing out by eight.  It was an odd season.  So, what have they done to rectify matters?  Read on…

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Kunlun Red Star Beijing in 2017-18

The KHL’s Chinese expansion project got off to a tremendous start last season, as Kunlun Red Star Beijing made the playoffs on their first try (they nearly slumped out at the end of the regular season, and need a tie-breaker to secure that last playoff spot, but no matter).  The off-season has featured scads of new players, the arrival of a famous coach in Mike Keenan (last year’s bench boss Vladimir Yurzinov resigned at season’s end), and the foundation of a minor-pro farm team and a junior squad (not to mention one or perhaps two teams in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League).  So what next for Kunlun Red Star Beijing, and can last year’s accomplishment be repeated?  Read on…

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Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast in 2017-18

Sibir missed the playoffs in 2016-17 — heartbreakingly, via the tie-breaker — bringing an end to four straight post-season appearances, the last three of which saw team reach at least the second round.  More ominously, however, were the persistent reports of serious financial problems at the Siberian team, a phenomenon that had become all too common over the last couple of seasons.  We may never know how close we came to losing Sibir this past year, but the hockey cost of fixing the problem was very, very high.  So is there any hope for 2017-18?  Well, yes — read on…

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Women’s Hockey Update: July 31st, 2017

“A Day with Women’s National Team”: A very interesting little video following women’s senior national team members Anna Shockhina and Alevtina Shtaryova around a day of training in Novogorsk.

The Women’s Hockey League teams are all now fully immersed in pre-season preparations, and we are quickly approaching the first actual games of 2017-18, even if they will be just of the “exhibition” variety.  In the meantime, however, there are still some bits of news to look at, so read on for an early version of the 2017-18 Russian U18 roster, a new coach in the Women’s Hockey League, and a whole new competition in Russian women’s amateur hockey!

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Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk in 2017-18

Neftekhimik’s playoff hopes looked dead and buried this past October, with the team languishing near the bottom of the standings and already on its third head coach of the season — not to mention the fact that that third coach was the infamously volatile Andrei Nazarov.  But, a funny thing happened: somehow Nazarov got the train back on tracks, and although the playoffs did indeed prove out of reach in the end, it was only by three points when all was said and done.  Can the team put together a full season of that kind of performance, and reach the promised land for the second time in three years?  Read on…

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