A Walk Through the KHL: Nov. 21st, 2016
Time once again for our weekly amble through the KHL’s 29 teams, so read on, for discussion of Monday’s enthralling top-of-the-table encounter, various comings and goings of players, and other such matters. But first watch the highlight clip above two or three times — it’s worth it!
Monday featured a treat for KHL fans, as the league’s top two teams got together when CSKA Moscow visited SKA Petersburg. And, while such “big” games can prove disappointing on occasion, this one certainly did not.
The game was barely five minutes old when SKA’s two old men, Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk, got together to produce the goal in the clip at the beginning of this post. When Nikita Gusev put SKA up 2-0 just a minute later, it appeared that a rout might be on the cards. But CSKA had an answer: first Sergei Andronov reduced the deficit, then Greg Scott tallied twice, and suddenly — still just at the halfway mark of the first period — the Moscow side had the lead.
From there, things settled down, at least for a time. It was not until late in the second period that SKA found their equalizer through Maxim Chudinov. Fifteen seconds after that, they found a go-ahead goal, too, this one scored by Dinar Khafizullin. 4-3 SKA after 40 minutes. In the third, the St. Petersburg side finally put the game away. Yevgeny Dadonov made it 5-3 with ten minutes to go, and despite some fairly furious CSKA pressure, the Muscovites could not draw closer. Kovalchuk added an empty-netter, and the 6-3 final score belied a game that was in fact much closer than that. A tremendous spectacle for the fans — full highlights are here!
To the rest of league:
1 (-). SKA St. Petersburg (27-6, 82 pts.): Goalie Igor Shestyorkin not only made 36 saves on 39 shots in the thrilling game discussed above, but he also recorded the first two assists of his KHL career.
2 (-). CSKA Moscow (24-11, 75 pts.): CSKA have released 28-year-old Canadian forward Bud Holloway, despite some nice numbers (12 gp, 3-6-9) in limited action this season.
3 (-). Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (21-11, 63 pts.): Torpedo have acquired forward Brandon McMillan, second on Medveščak in goals (9) and third in points (15), from the Zagreb team for cash.
4 (-). Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (18-13, 55 pts.): Strange story — assistant coach Dmitry Yushkevich has been absent for a couple of games, and is reportedly under a team suspension. The team has denied this, saying that the former NHL defenceman is out with an illness.
5 (+1). HK Sochi (18-15, 51 pts.): The Black Sea club has placed veteran defenceman Roman Derlyuk (11 gp, 0-0-0) on waivers; if he goes unclaimed, he will be sent to VHL farm team Dynamo St. Petersburg.
6 (+3). Dinamo Minsk (17-14, 49 pts.): It was a nice week in the standings for the Belarusans, but one dark cloud looms: Dinamo will be without team assist-leader Sergei Kostitsyn (30 gp, 4-17-21), who was stretchered off against Vityaz with a leg injury.
7 (+1). Vityaz Moscow Oblast (17-15, 32 pts.): Congratulations are in order to former NHL forward Maxim Afinogenov, who played his 500th match in Russian domestic championships this week.
8 (-3). Dynamo Moscow (17-15, 49 pts.): Dynamo have waived Czech forward Lukáš Kašpar. A dangerous scorer over his career, Kašpar has managed only three points in nine games.
9 (-2). Jokerit Helsinki (15-16 48 pts.): Something that would help Jokerit immensely would be better goaltending; only six teams have worse save percentages than the .912 put up by Ryan Zapolski and Riku Helenius, and Jokerit do not have the offensive firepower to overcome that.
10 (-). Severstal Cherepovets (12-20, 41 pts.): Severstal have signed journeyman forward Igor Radulov to a one-year deal. Radulov (he’s Alexander’s older brother, by the way), was 18 gp, 0-2-2 with Ugra earlier this season before being released a couple of weeks ago.
11 (-). Spartak Moscow (13-18, 40 pts.): Spartak set a new all-time club record for single-game highest attendance this week: 10, 571 fans came out to the Legends Park arena for their match against Metallurg Magnitogorsk on Saturday. Sadly for the Spartak fans, the visitors got a Sergei Mozyakin hat-trick and won 5-1.
12 (-). Slovan Bratislava (13-18, 39 pts.): After news broke this week that Slovan were in arrears on wages, the club issued a statement that negotiations with a new sponsor are underway, and that the situation will be cleared up in a few weeks.
13 (-). Medveščak Zagreb (13-19, 38 pts.): The Croatian side has once again issued a statement denying that it plans to move to London after this season, although the issue of continued KHL participation is still up in the air.
14 (-). Dinamo Riga (9-23, 29 pts.): Dinamo’s fowards have struggled badly to score goals this season (largely due to poor shooting percentage, i.e. bad luck); the team’s top two point-scorers at the moment, Guntis Galviņš (29 gp, 4-9-13) and Patrick Mullen (32 gp, 4-8-12), are both defencemen.
1 (-). Metallurg Magnitogorsk (23-10, 71 pts.): Ageless wonder Sergei Mozyakin (he’s actually 35) has an 11-game point streak going, during which he has scored 10-12-22. His lead in the KHL scoring race is now four points, over Ilya Kovalchuk.
2 (+2). Avangard Omsk Oblast (22-11, 64 pts.): The Omsk side has inked American veteran forward David Booth to a one-year deal. Booth was widely rumoured to be signing with Admiral, for whom he played 28 games last season.
3 (-). Ak Bars Kazan (23-11, 65 pts.): Forward Vladimir Tkachyov (34 gp, 12-9-21) is reportedly attracting interest from NHL teams, although it seems unlikely that he will leave before the end of the season (and don’t confuse this Vladimir Tkachyov with the one who had a brief try-out with the Oilers a couple of seasons ago — he now plays for Admiral).
4 (-2). Salavat Yulaev Ufa (19-14, 59 pts.): Veteran forward Dmitry Makarov has joined Salavat Yulaev after being cut by Neftekhimik earlier this week. Makarov, 32 years old, scored only 1-7-8 in 23 games in Nizhnekamsk, but has a career 284 points in 474 KHL games; he can still help.
5 (-). Traktor Chelyabinsk (16-16, 49 pts.): Traktor signed veteran American forward Ryan Vesce a few weeks ago, when he failed to find NHL work for 2016-17. However, it was to be a brief partnership; the ex-Medveščak player has been released after scoring one goal in seven games for the Chelyabinskers.
6 (+1). Kunlun Red Star Beijing (16-15, 48 pts.): The Chinese side has traded goalie Artyom Zagidullin, the KHL’s Young Player of the Month for October, back to Metallurg Magnitogorsk for financial considerations.
7 (-1). Admiral Vladivostok (14-18, 45 pts.): Former Philadelphia Flyers prospect Jason Akeson has had his contract cancelled by mutual consent of the parties involved. Akeson scored 1-4-5 in 17 games for Admiral.
8 (-). Barys Astana (14-16, 42 pts.): Damir Ryspayev, who was banned indefinitely from the KHL for a rampage during a pre-season game, is back with Barys and playing for their Kazakh League farm team, Nomad Astana. Barys have reportedly contacted the KHL with a view to getting Ryspayev reinstated to that league.
9 (+1). Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast (14-19, 42 pts.): Maxim Shalunov’s return to the lineup this week, after a month out injured, was a welcome sight for Sibir fans; the 23-year-old has gone 2-2-4, +4, in three games since rejoining the team.
10 (+2). Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (14-19, 40 pts.): It was Avtomobilist who earned to honour of ending SKA’s 15-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory on Thursday. Even more remarkably, the Yekaterinurg side has now beaten the KHL’s best team twice in 2016-17 sweeping the season series.
11 (-). Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk (14-19, 39 pts.): He’s tiny (5’9″, 154 lbs.), but 21-year-old Pavel Varfolomeyev, a product of Ugra’s youth system, is having in impact. His 9-7-16 in 26 games puts him top of the team in points-per-game.
12 (-3). Lada Tolyatti (13-19, 38 pts.): Like Slovan, Lada also found themselves issuing a statement this week on wage arrears; repayment is apparently coming in December.
13 (-). Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (14-17, 38 pts.): A bright spot in this mess of a season for Neftekhimik has been the acquisition of Gilbert Brulé, who has scored 6-6-12 in 11 games since arriving from Medveščak in October.
14 (-). Amur Khabarovsk (11-22, 35 pts.): The Far-Easterners snapped an eight-game losing skid on Saturday by beating Metallurg Novokuznetsk 2-0, but will be without veteran d-man Vladimir Malevich for a couple of games; he’s suspended for a hit to the head.
15 (-). Metallurg Novokuznetsk (6-27, 18 pts.): Having already produced Sergei Bobrovsky and Ilya Sorokin in recent years, Kuznya may have another young goaltending prodigy on their hands; 22-year-old Andrei Kareyev has a .934 sv% through 20 games.