Avangard Omsk Oblast in 2016-17

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Avangard’s Arena Omsk, boasting one of the more imposing facades in the KHL!  (Image Source)

An odd summer in Omsk; not only has there been an ongoing saga with one of their best players (more on this below), but the team has already switched coaches, bringing in Fyodor Kanareikin to replace Yevgeny Kornoukhov just ten days ago.  Even with all that, however, I have them as champions of the East Conference this season; the “how” and the “why” are below, so read on…

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Dynamo Moscow in 2016-17

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VTB Ice Palace, Moscow — as you can see it also often plays host to the Russian national team. (Image Source)

While Dynamo Moscow were turning in their usual strong performance on the ice last season, away from the rink the drumbeat of financial difficulty was beating.  In fact, the famous old team — the first-ever hockey champions of the Soviet Union back in 1946 — was late providing financial guarantees for 2016-17, bringing into question their continued participation in the KHL.  However, the problems appear to have been solved, or at least solved enough for now, so read on for some comments about Dynamo’s on-ice possibilities this season.

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And They’re Off!

The KHL is officially out of the blocks for the new season, with defending champs Metallurg Magnitogorsk downing CSKA Moscow 3-2 in the opener on Monday.  It was a good game, featuring:

  • A Sergei Mozyakin goal (“Wow,” said the commentator, appropriately).
  • Two goals by CSKA’s Dmitry Kugryshev (including the first KHL goal of the season), giving him the very very early league lead in that category.
  • Some nice goaltending at both ends.
  • A fair bit of chippiness, as the teams renewed acquaintances after last year’s seven-game Gagarin Cup final.
  • A look at CSKA’s new uniforms.

Enjoy the highlights, as we get underway for 2016-17!

Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast in 2016-17

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Sibir Ice Sports Palace, Novosibirsk. (Image Source)

Sibir recorded their first-ever playoff series win in the Spring of 2014, but since then have made at least the second round in three straight seasons and established themselves as one of the best teams in the East (this despite several occurrences of the dreaded financial difficulties).  Can they keep it up?  Read on…

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It Begins Again!

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Where we left off, this past spring. (Image Source)

On Monday evening, at 7:00 local time, the puck will drop in Magnitogorsk to get the KHL’s ninth season of action underway.  Gagarin Cup Champions Metallurg will take on 2015-16 regular season champs CSKA Moscow in the league’s traditional opening match-up, which is also a re-match of last season’s Finals.  Read on, for a quick look at what to expect in the new season!

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Metallurg Magnitogorsk in 2016-17

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The Arena-Metallurg, with the Ural River and Magnitogorsk’s Cathedral of the Ascension of Christ in the background. (Image Source)

For the second time in three seasons, the Gagarin Cup took up residence this past Spring in western Siberia, on the banks of the Ural River in the steel-town of Magnitogorsk.  Metallurg did not dominate the regular season, but experience, good goaltending, and the presence of the KHL’s greatest-ever player all made their mark in the playoffs, even if seven tough games were needed to deal with CSKA Moscow in the Finals.  So what chance of making it three out of four?  Read on…

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Salavat Yulaev Ufa in 2016-17

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Panorama showing the Ufa-Arena, the city of Ufa, and the Bashkirian countryside beyond. (Image Source)

Salavat Yulaev’s 2015-16 campaign looked much like SKA’s: they were early-season contenders, suffered a dreadful start, fired their coach, and recovered enough to make the Conference Finals.  There was far less Drama in Ufa than in St. Petersburg, but this is still a team with something to prove in 2016-17.  Read on…

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SKA St. Petersburg in 2016-17

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The Ice Palace, St. Petersburg. (Image Source)

SKA’s defence of their 2014-15 Gagarin Cup title was, bluntly, disastrous.  The hiring of Andrei Nazarov as head coach backfired spectacularly, and though matters improved somewhat after his dismissal, the team never threatened the top spots in the Conference.  And while SKA did make the final four in the end, the playoffs also brought an ugly mess involving Ilya Kovalchuk.  We can hope that non-SKA fans enjoyed the giants’ discomfiture while they had the chance, because… well, read on.

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Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in 2016-17

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KRK Nagorny, Nizhny Novgorod, at night. (Image Source)

2015-16 was a bouncy year for Torpedo: they started brightly, faded to seventh in the Conference at the end, upset second-seeded Jokerit in the playoffs, and then had fairly severe financial worries (now apparently solved) in the off-season.  So what can they do for an encore?  Read on…

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Ak Bars Kazan in 2016-17

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Tatneft Arena, on the banks of the Kazanka River with the Volga in the background. (Image Source)

We go from a team coming off its best season ever to an Ak Bars side that had its worst in a long time.  The Tatarstan giants finished 12th in the KHL, outside a league’s top ten for the first time since the Soviet Championship season of 1991-92.  Have they remedied matters?  Read on…

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