Players of Interest Update: Oct. 7th, 2016
It was, in fact, a decent week for all six of our players of particular interest this time around… with one enormous “however” mixed in. That ominous qualifier? The fact that five of them are on teams that are struggling, were struggling, or have struggled, and you can probably work in a few other tenses of that verb as well (“are going to be about to have struggled?”). For a certain young goalie, though, everything is coming up roses — read on!
- G Igor Shestyorkin (SKA St. Petersburg)
- Season to date (KHL): 13 gp, .938 sv%, 1.71 GAA, 4 SO.
- This week (KHL): 2 gp, 1.000 sv%, 0.00 GAA, 2 SO.
Goaltending controversy! Shestyorkin got the day off on Sunday, with veteran Mikko Koskinen making his first post-World Cup start. However, Koskinen struggled in a shock 5-4 overtime loss to Medveščak Zagreb, and coach Oleg Znarok went right back to Shestyorkin. As you can see from this week’s line, his faith has been amply repaid. Young Shestyorkin is on a real tear, with three straight shutouts (this ties a team record, held by Koskinen), and it gets even better. Yesterday’s win, in which he stopped 38 shots, came at the expense of league-leading CSKA Moscow, and allowed SKA to move within a point of top spot with a game in hand. Igor Shestyorkin is, for the time being, a KHL starting goalie, and doing a heck of a job of it.
- D Kirill Koltsov (Traktor Chelyabinsk)
- Season to date (KHL): 16 gp, 6-1-7, +4, 2 PiM, 45 SoG, 19:17 ToI/Gm.
- This week (KHL): 2 gp, 1-0-1, Even, 0 PiM, 6 SoG, 18:37 ToI/Gm.
Well ok, Koltsov got a goal, increasing his KHL lead in that category among defensemen to two. He shot the puck at about his usual rate, sawed off the plus/minus, and generally had a decent week. The only problem? Traktor lost both games, and have now followed up a three-game winning streak by dropping four of five. There are currently five points separating fourth place from thirteenth in the East Conference, and Koltsov’s team is smack-dab in the middle of that mess.
- D Adam Polášek (Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast)
- Season to date (KHL): 17 gp, 1-12-13, +6, 8 PiM, 32 SoG, 21:00 ToI/Gm.
- This week (KHL): 3 gp, 0-2-2, +1, 0 PiM, 5 SoG, 21:32 ToI/Gm.
Second defenseman, same as the first. Polášek chipped in another couple of helpers this week; he is now fourth in the KHL in points by defencemen, and also tied for fourth among everybody in assists. But, once again, this decent production comes against the backdrop of a struggling team caught up in that ferocious melee in the middle of the East Conference. Sibir have dropped four in a row now, and got some further bad news today when leading scorer Maxim Shalunov (second in the KHL in goals behind only Sergei Mozyakin) was suspended for three games for a kneeing incident.
- F Anatoly Golyshev (Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg)
- Season to date (KHL): 15 gp, 2-6-8, -1, 4 PiM, 36 SoG, 16:49 ToI/Gm.
- Season to date (VHL): 4 gp, 1-0-1, Even, 0 PiM, 10 SoG, 17:05 ToI/Gm.
- This week (KHL): 3 gp, 1-2-3, Even, 0 PiM, 7 SoG, 18:04 ToI/Gm.
We noted last week that Avtomobilist were struggling (yet another team in that mob in the East), and that Golyshev might be in line for a return from the farm team. That duly happened, and Golyshev’s numbers have been pretty good since he returned. He scored a cleverly opportunistic goal in his second game back, earning him a kiss on the hat from his coach (see video at the top of this post), and has chipped in a couple of assists as well. There is some way to go before we declare him fully out of the early-season doldrums that got him demoted in the first place, but the signs are good for now. And although it took until the third match of Golyshev’s return, Avtomobilist finally broke a six-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk today.
- F Linus Omark (Salavat Yulaev Ufa)
- Season to date (KHL): 17 gp, 4-17-21, +3, 2 PiM, 53 SoG, 18:44 ToI/Gm.
- This week (KHL): 2 gp, 0-3-3, +2, 0 PiM, 4 SoG, 18:09 ToI/Gm.
And, for the fourth straight player, we visit an East team caught up in the thick of things. In Salavat Yulaev’s case, however, this is cause for some mild celebration; after a dire start to the season, the Bashkir side has turned things around a bit with three wins in their last four games (their lone loss? To mighty Metallurg Magnitogorsk, via a shootout, so that’s not too bad either). And Omark, now leading the KHL in assists and third in the league in points, has been in his expected place at the heart of the team’s mini-revival. Of note: his longtime team-mate in Ufa, Edmonton, and Oklahoma City, Teemu Hartikainen, has four goals in his last three games, and Omark has assisted on three of them, so that partnership is alive and well.
- F Sakari Salminen (Jokerit Helsinki)
- Season to date (KHL): 16 gp, 2-11-13, +7, 8 PiM, 31 SoG, 17:56 ToI/Gm.
- This week (KHL): 4 gp, 1-4-5, +2, 0PiM, 10 SoG, 19:08 ToI/Gm.
For Salminen personally, it was a glorious if busy week, particularly in the playmaking department; he now leads Jokerit in points by one ahead of Peter Regin. However, and this is not the first time we have encountered this phenomenon in today’s update, the team’s performance did not live up to Salminen’s. Jokerit have been a disappointment based on past performances and pre-season expectations; they have lost five of six, are 7-10 on the season, and currently occupy ninth spot in the West Conference. In fact Salminen and Regin have really been their only two bright spots, and those two will need some help if the ship is to be righted. It is still hard to envision Jokerit missing the playoffs, but at this rate…
Thank you for reading!