Changes at the top
The Western Conference has new leaders for the first time since September, Lokomotiv replacing Dynamo Moscow at the top by the narrowest of margins – by virtue of having more shootout victories. This is because the men from Yaroslavl and the Muscovites are not only level on points, but also have an identical number of regulation time wins and overtime wins.
In taking the lead in the west, Lokomotiv put an end to a dynasty of Dynamo and Dinamos. The first to take number one position was Dinamo Riga, but they were displaced on September 13th by Dinamo Minsk, who in turn lost the top spot on September 30th, when Oleg Znarok’s team took charge with a 2-1 victory over Atlant.
Shootout winners and losers
Still on the theme of Dynamo Moscow and shootouts, we must note that the recently deposed leaders are still the only team in the KHL without a single shootout victory, although today, it must be said, the Blue-and-Whites were up against an opponent with a formidable record on this count: the men from Nizhny Novgorod won their third shootout of four this season.
Three teams currently boast five shootout victories this season: Yugra (against five defeats), SKA (four defeats) and CSKA (just two defeats), and three more are still undefeated in shootouts: Severstal (with one win), Neftekhimik (two wins) and Sibir (four wins).
As for the number of shots taken, Yugra’s shooters have been the busiest with 37 attempts, whereas the lowest total belongs to Severstal – just 3.
Vitaly Koval claimed his second clean sheet of the season, and in doing so equaled his career record in the KHL. This time the Atlant goalie needed 23 games to earn two shutouts, whereas last season Vitaly achieved this in his 22nd outing, while in the colors of Dinamo Minsk, although there is plenty of time left in the regular championship for Koval to set a new personal best. A look at the statistics tells us Vitaly gets more and more reliable each year: in the first KHL championship he allowed an average of 2.95 goals per game and saved 89.6% of shots; the following year both these figures improved, to 2.67 and 90.2% respectively. Now this season his figures are better still, allowing just 2.02 goals each game and saving 92.4% of shots.
Figure of the day
Atlant’s 3-0 win was the team’s fourth win by that scoreline this season, and the Mytishchi men have also won 4-1 on four occasions. Atlant’s tendency this year to win by a three-goal margin is a new phenomenon: in the two previous KHL championships they preferred the more modest winning scoreline of 3:2, achieving this four times in the first season and five times the following year.
Bernd Bruckler (Torpedo). Saved 39 shots in regulation time and made four more saves in the shootout.
Pavel Trakhanov (Atlant). Spent over 20 minutes on the ice and finished at a +1.
Alexander Guskov (Lokomotiv). Hit four shots at goal in almost 23 minutes’ playing time, and was rated the most valuable player on the team, earning a +3.
Ryan Vesce (Torpedo). Scored two goals in regulation time and scored twice again in the shootout, including the game deciding shot.
Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant). Played for over 21 minutes and scored two goals, one of which turned out to be the game-winner.
Alexander Galimov (Lokomotiv). Scored a double, including the winning goal, and added an assist, in a performance which merited a +4.
Quotes of the day
“I admit, we honestly didn’t expect them to be so lively in offense and so tight in defense,” Atlant head coach Milos Riha.
“How has the year been? It’s been super! They’re paying our wages, all well and good. Seriously though, there’s a lot of work to be done at Vityaz,” Vityaz head coach Andrei Nazarov.
Alexei Shevchenko, special to khl.ru