Regular season: 2nd in Eastern Conference, 93 points
Regular Season: 3rd in Western Conference, 105 Points
Oct 8, Omsk, Dynamo 1-0 SO
Jan 16, Moscow, Avangard 2-1 SO
There isn’t much to choose between the two Gagarin Cup rivals. Both teams enjoyed solid regular season campaigns, and exploded into life at just the right time as the play-offs started. In post-season encounters, the pair have dropped just two games each on the way to the grand final. Moreover, both have 10 regulation wins, and 2 overtime wins, although Dynamo have yet to be beaten inside 60 minutes.
Look more closely: the goal tallies are almost identical: 43-24 for Dynamo, 40-23 for Avangard. And individual stats also suggest the two teams are evenly balanced. While Avangard’s Roman Cervenka is the top point-scorer in the play-offs, Dynamo have the leading goalscorer (Mikhail Anisin’s 13 goals put him three ahead of Cervenka) and the leading assistsman in Konstantin Gorovikov (his nine assists are one better than Cervenka’s record). At the other end, there is just 0.4% separating the goalies’ save ratios, with Karri Ramo’s 94.4% giving him the slightest of advantages over Alexander Yeryomenko.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that the only point where the seeming equality of the teams is threatened is when they have unequal forces on the ice. But even here, the numbers suggest a meeting of irresistible forces and immovable objects. Avangard, as coach Raimo Summanen admits, needs to improve its penalty conversion rate of just 12.5% - especially when Dynamo’s 22.9% is among the most impressive of the post-season. But flip the figures round, and it’s Avangard which has the edge on the penalty kill – 85.1% to 81.8%.
And that could be the key battle ground where this series is won or lost: in the games to date Dynamo have given up an average of more than 3 extra penalty minutes than Avangard. If the Omsk side can capitalize on that, it might be the decisive factor.
Seeing the future
A few predictions before the final series gets underway:
The veterans’ view
“Dynamo is the favorite for the final. Both teams are very well prepared, but Dynamo will build its game on the defense and use its quick forwards to harm the opponent. And, as we saw in recent games, it doesn’t matter whether this team is at home or on the road – the Blue-and-Whites still play the same way.”
Vladimir Petrov, double Olympic champion
“There is no favorite in the final, it’s impossible to give a preference to either team. We can say that both teams have an equal chance”
Viktor Tikhonov, legendary Soviet hockey coach
“I’m expecting a beautiful game, and may the best man win. I never give predictions, but I think these will be interesting games of hockey and we could see the series go to seven games.”
Boris Mikhailov, veteran of the 1972 Summit Series
· All comments taken from R-Sport agency.
The journalists’ view
Dynamo Moscow have been playing exceptionally well on the way to the Gagarin Cup final and hopefully they can extend their fine run of form. Avangard on the other hand have also impressed in the conference play-offs without experiencing any major difficulties. The final series could go all the way to deciding game 7 (which can't be bad for hockey in Russia) and hopefully we will get to witness some fine battles. It will also be great to see the trophy travel to a new location, other than Kazan and Ufa.
Roman Kosarev, sports correspondent at RT and radio host at the Voice of Russia
Dynamo did a great job getting to the final, but i think the cup will go to Omsk. I do not see Avangard crumbling the way SKA did in the semis, and it will be a tight contest. Karri Ramo had a good series against Traktor, so it will not be as easy for Anisin and Mosalyov, as it was against SKA.
Evgeniya Chaykovskaya, sports correspondent, www.themoscownews.com
The bookmakers’ view
On the eve of the final, the bookies rate Avangard as slender favorites to lift the cup and take Russian hockey’s top prize for the first time since 2004. Russian bookmaker Marafon rates Avangard a 1.82 shot, compared with 2.15 for Dynamo.
Friday, April 13: Avangard vs Dynamo (1600, Moscow time)
Sunday, April 15: Avangard vs Dynamo (1400, Moscow time)
Tuesday April 17: Dynamo vs Avangard (1930, Moscow time)
Thursday April 19: Dynamo vs Avangard (1930, Moscow time)
Saturday April 21: Avangard vs Dynamo (1400, Moscow time)
Monday April 23: Dynamo vs Avangard (1930, Moscow time)
Wednesday April 25: Avangard vs Dynamo (1600, Moscow time)
All games are due to be screened live on www.khl.ru and www.youtube.com/khl.