Category Archives: KHL

Into the Home Stretch

Dynamo Moscow inaugurated their new 11,000-seat VTB Arena in Petrovsky Park in early January, but that wasn’t the only reason for celebration for the famous old club. (Image Source)

The KHL’s All-Star Week festivities are over and done with for 2018-19, and as usual a good time was had by all. Whether it was Dinamo Riga defenceman Mathew Maione showing off his musical chops, Agidel Ufa forward Nicol Čupková dancing with fellow-Slovakian Július Hudáček of Spartak Moscow, or Ak Bars Kazan coach (and former Soviet national team blueliner) Zinetula Bilyaletdinov doffing his suit jacket to try a penalty shot, both the skills competition and the mini-tournament itself produced some fun moments. But now we get back to business; each KHL team has played at least 47 games, so the third quarter of the league’s 2018-19 season is completely in the books. Read on, as we take a look at what happened — who impressed and who disappointed — in that third quarter, as the campaign heads towards the playoffs.

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Halfway Home

CSKA Moscow’s second quarter of the 2018-19 KHL season, summed up in one photo!  CSKA took 28 of a possible 30 points in Q2.  (Image Source)

Every single KHL team is now at least halfway through its 62-game 2018-19 regular-season schedule, and so it is time to check in briefly with how everyone is doing.  A few weeks ago, we looked at the pts%  for each team in its first quarter of the season (Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, my goodness!), and now we will do the same for each club’s passage through games 17-31.  Read on!

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Before and After

It took awhile, but results have recently improved dramatically for Sibir Novosibirsk under the imposing guidance of new head coach Alexander Andriyevsky.  (Image Source)

After today’s news that Severstal Cherepovets have hired Andrei Razin as their new head coach, I thought it might be a good idea to check on the teams that have changed bench bosses this season.  There have six such clubs in 2018-19, starting with Sibir Novisibirsk back in mid-September, and finishing up with Severstal, who fired Alexander Gulyavtsev on November 12th.  So, below the jump, we’ll take a look at the each of the coaching changes to date, and try to see which ones have been good ideas and which ones haven’t.  Of course, the usual caveats apply; correlation is not causation, necessarily, and things like injuries, regression to the mean, and so on can have as much say as coaching does, or more, in a team’s success.  Also, small sample sizes abound.  But with all that in mind, read on!  

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Change of Status for Belarusan Players

Belarusan defenceman Pavel Vorobey, a recent signing at Sibir Novosibirsk, is one of the players affected by last week’s change in the KHL regulations.  (Image Source)

In a recent post here, we talked about the KHL’s foreign-player rules, and I noted that one remaining area of confusion was the status of players from Belarus.  Belarusan athletes competing on Russian teams had, up until this summer, been considered imports, and thus counted against the various leagues’ foreign-player limits.  However, this past summer the Russian Ministry of Sport indicated that change would be coming, and this past week new regulations became official in the KHL: Belarusan players at Russian KHL clubs no longer officially count as foreigners.  What does it all mean?  Read on…

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Foreign Players and the KHL

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Now-former Metallurg Magnitogorsk forward Wojtek Wolski.  (Image Source)

It was a move that very few, if anyone, saw coming; ten days ago Metallurg Magnitogorsk released Canadian forward Wojtek Wolski from his contract, making him a free agent.  Wolski, a fan favourite in Magnitogorsk, was at that time the team’s second-leading point-scorer, with a line of 6-9-15 in 18 games, so his release came as a major shock.  What happened?  Well, the answer arrived later that same day, when Metallurg signed Czech forward Michal Bulíř from Bílí Tygři Liberec of the Czech Extraliga.  Wolski’s Metallurg tenure had, it became clear, fallen victim to the KHL’s rules on foreign players — or “legionnaires” (легионеры) as they are often referred to in Russian.  But what are those rules, exactly, and how did they come to cost Wolski his job?  Read on, for an explanation!

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Quarter Pole

 

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Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg take to the ice, and they’ve been bad news for any opponent in 2018-19 so far.  (Image Source)

The 2018-19 KHL season is through its first quarter, and as the teams head into the back stretch and towards the impending November break, it’s time to take a bit of a look at how that first quarter-and-a-bit have gone.  Read on, for splits, and some chit-chat!

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The Unlikelies

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Amur Khabarovsk goalie Yevgeny Alikin. (Image Source)

It happens every season: we get ready the Kaprisovs, Gusevs, Sorokins, et al. to their thing (and they do, and are doing their things in 2018-19).  But the early days of the season also tends to toss up a few unlikely heroes — guys with short, or long but generally un-noted, playing resumes who suddenly are making all sorts of good headlines.  And while, not to mention because, they tend to fade away over the course of the long season (that is why they are not counted among the Kaprizovs, Gusevs, Sorokins, et al.), I think it worthwhile to give at least a few of them a tip of the hat while we can.  So read on, as we do just that with six unlikely stars of the early going in the KHL of 2018-19!

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Sibir Switch Coaches

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An all-too-common scene already this season, as the puck finds its way in the Sibir Novosibirsk net. (Image Source)

Sometimes, I get it entirely wrong.  “Definitely a team to keep an eye on,” I wrote in my  2018-19 preview of Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast, after suggesting that Sibir might even be a possible division winner.  Well, that looks a ludicrously sunny prognostication indeed right now.  The team from central Siberia — 0-6, with no points, and having been outscored 25-9 — will go down in the books as the first KHL team of this season to change coaches.  Gone is Vladimir Yurzinov, Jr. (“I think Yurzinov is exactly the right guy to look after this roster as it heads into the next stage of the rebuilding process,” said I, blithely), and his replacement will be ex-Admiral head coach Alexander Andriyevsky.  Read on, for what went awry, and what happens now.

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SKA St. Petersburg in 2018-19

Eras have ended at SKA St. Petersburg, after a 2017-18 campaign in which they lost just five times in regulation during the regular season but were unceremoniously dumped from the playoffs at the semifinal stage by CSKA Moscow.  Gone is coach Oleg Znarok, replaced both for club and country by Ilya Vorobyov.  Gone is Ilya Kovalchuk, who last season became the first player not named Radulov or Mozyakin to win the KHL scoring title.  And gone are a number of other well-known names from this immensely powerful team, as the KHL heads towards the imposition of a hard salary cap.  But this is still SKA St. Petersburg, and there are some big names among the incoming players as well… read on. Read the rest of this entry

CSKA Moscow in 2018-19

CSKA Moscow, the Central Red Army team of years gone by, were, as usual, very very good in 2017-18.  CSKA and SKA St. Petersburg were in a class by themselves during the regular season, and it was the former that earned the last laugh when the two titans met in the West Conference Final.  But, once again, CSKA’s season ended in disappointment, as what looked a prime opportunity to finally pick up a first Gagarin Cup was spurned via a five-game loss to Ak Bars Kazan in the Final.  Can CSKA finally get things right in the end in 2018-19?  Read on.

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