Players of Interest Update: Sept. 29th, 2016
It is Thursday, and that means time to update you on the six players this blog is following particularly closely this season. For our goalie and one of our forwards, it was a splendid week indeed — for our defencemen, and at least one of our other forwards, not so much… Read on!
- G Igor Shestyorkin (SKA St. Petersburg)
- Season to date (KHL): 11 gp, .921 sv%, 2.04 GAA, 2 SO.
- This week (KHL): 3 gp, .961 sv%, 0.97 GAA, 1 SO.
A spectacular week’s work for Shestyorkin, and probably the best thing about it was not the numbers, excellent though they were, but the fact that it was indeed a WEEK’s work. Despite Mikko Koskinen’s return from World Cup duty, Shestyorkin played every minute for SKA over the past seven days, and while it is true that the competition did not come from the KHL’s elite (Ugra twice, Amur, Admiral, and Kunlun Red Star have been SKA’s last five opponents), you can only play the teams the schedule tells you to. And if Shestyorkin can keep up this solid play (he also was also perfect in three shootout attempts against), he will keep getting the minutes. The possibility, which I’ve mentioned here a couple of times, of a trip to the VHL for some extra playing time seems an unlikely one at the moment.
- D Kirill Koltsov (Traktor Chelyabinsk)
- Season to date (KHL): 14 gp, 5-1-6, +4, 2 PiM, 39 SoG, 19:23 ToI/Gm.
- This week (KHL): 3 gp, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PiM, 13 SoG, 21:11 ToI/Gm.
Not a week that Koltsov will particularly want to remember, nor will his team-mates have fond memories of the last few days. After winning three in a row, Traktor dropped a pair this week, and then had their hands full getting by lowly Metallurg Novokuznetsk by a slim 2-1 margin. And Koltsov is now riding a four-game pointless streak, which is bad news for a guy who makes his living as an attacking rearguard. Any bright spots? Well, Koltsov’s five goals still lead all KHL defencemen this season, and Traktor are still tied for third in the East Conference, which is a pleasant place to be for a team that missed out on the post-season in 2015-16.
- D Adam Polášek (Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast)
- Season to date (KHL): 14 gp, 1-10-11, +5, 8 PiM, 27 SoG, 20:54 ToI/Gm.
- This week (KHL): 2 gp, 0-0-0, -3, 0 PiM, 4 SoG, 23:51 ToI/Gm.
And our other defenceman fared no better than Koltsov did. Today’s game against Metallurg Magnitogorsk was a particularly forgettable one for Polášek; he was on the ice for all three goals against in a 3-0 loss, although in fairness Sergei Mozyakin and Metallurg have been on a bit of a rampage lately. Once again we ask: any bright spots? Indeed — Sibir are part of that tie for third in the East with Traktor (Ak Bars Kazan are in there too), and Polášek remains fifth in scoring among the KHL’s blueliners.
- F Anatoly Golyshev (Sputnik Nizhny Tagil [VHL])
- Season to date (KHL): 12 gp, 1-4-5, -1, 4 PiM, 29 SoG, 16:30 ToI/Gm.
- Season to date (VHL): 4 gp, 1-0-1, Even, 0 PiM, 10 SoG, 17:05 ToI/Gm.
- This week (VHL): 3 gp, 1-0-1, Even, 0 PiM, 7 SoG, 16:58 ToI/Gm.
To be honest, one would like to see more than a single goal (and single point) in four VHL games for a guy who found the net 25 times at the KHL level last season. Whatever was afflicting Golyshev earlier in the season in the big league with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg has not, apparently, decided to leave him alone even at the lower level. Somewhat worrying, although Sputnik are 4-0 since he arrived (two wins via shootout, in one of which Golyshev himself scored the winner), and are currently tied for third in the 26-team VHL. And Golyshev may be recalled to the parent team sooner rather than later; since beating SKA on September 19th, Avtomobilist are 0-4, and have scored only three goals. They might have to summon Golyshev back from the minors and hope for the best — we shall see.
- F Linus Omark (Salavat Yulaev Ufa)
- Season to date (KHL): 15 gp, 4-14-18, +1, 2 PiM, 49 SoG, 18:49 ToI/Gm.
- This week (KHL): 3 gp, 1-5-6, +3, 0 PiM, 11 SoG, 19:31 ToI/Gm.
By contrast, things could not have gone much better for Omark this week; the 29-year-old Swede now has a line of 3-7-10 in his last four games, while his team has won three of four and ascended back into the playoff picture in the East. That scoring surge has him up to second in the KHL points race, tied with Ilya Kovalchuk and trailing only the amazing Mozyakin. He also now leads the entire league in assists, one ahead of Metallurg’s Chris Lee. Having Omark at full throttle at this moment is important for Salavat Yulaev, as their next two games will be tricky. A visit to Novosibirsk on Saturday to face Sibir will be followed on Tuesday by a trip into Magnitogorsk, where Mr. Mozyakin and his Metallurg team await.
- F Sakari Salminen (Jokerit Helsinki)
- Season to date (KHL): 12 gp, 1-7-8, +5, 8 PiM, 21 SoG, 17:32 ToI/Gm.
- This week (KHL): 2 gp, 0-2-2, +1, 0 PiM, 3 SoG, 18:55 ToI/Gm.
That’s a good enough couple of games for Salminen, who now sits second on his team in points, and tied for first in assists and plus-minus. However, it is unlikely that he feels much satisfaction; Jokerit lost both games this week, taking only a single point from getting to a shootout against Neftekhimik (Salminen took a shot in that one, and scored, although it wasn’t enough in the end). With a current record of 6-7, the Finnish side is sitting a disappointing tenth in the KHL’s West Conference, which is not a playoff position. There is, of course, plenty of time for things to turn around, nor can Salminen bear much of the blame for what has happened, but his team will badly need him to continue his strong play if it is to get back on course for the upper end of the Conference standings.