A look back at the previous week’s action in the KHL, reflecting on the most noteworthy events and the main heroes of the past seven days.
A number of teams recorded two victories over the week, but of these it is worth singling out Lev for special mention. The KHL new boys have been quick to adapt to their new league. And if at the very start Lev’s players had some difficulty finding their rhythm, then by the end of September everything was falling into place, as ably demonstrated when they triumphed 2-0 away in Latvia over Dinamo Riga and 4-1 at home against Dynamo Moscow. Not only did Radim Rulik’s men enjoy their first regulation time wins, but they also barged their way into the play-off zone.
But the most successful team of the last seven days was Amur, who registered three wins and even spent part of the week sitting proudly on top of the overall standings. The most striking success from the Khabarovsk men was their 4-0 thrashing of Ak Bars – their best ever showing against the men from Kazan.
“When I arrived at this club, we set ourselves a goal of progressing step by step and moving up the championship standings. We’ll be doing everything we can to achieve this; we just need plenty of patience and everything will be alright,” - said head coach Hannu Jortikka.
Avtomobilist played four games last week and lost all four. No-one seriously expected many triumphs from the Yekaterinburg men, given their numerous preseason problems, but of course there were some who had been waiting for a miracle. Avtomobilist has just the one victory so far this season and already languishes six points adrift at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Head coach Ilya Byakin was defiant: “I don’t think points are the problem. I see the team performing really well in many areas. As you can see, we are gradually getting our game together; when that comes, the points will follow.”
Both Torpedo and Sibir suffered three defeats in the week. Sibir’s lack of success is the bigger surprise, seeing how the team sailed effortlessly into the play-offs last season and has not been seriously weakened since then. The Novosibirk men are currently down in 11th place out east, although it is surely too early for any talk of a crisis.
Only one player managed three goals in one game last week: Severstal forward Vadim Shipachyov, who hit his hat-trick in under 16 minutes – the fastest of the season to date. Last season it was Severstal, incidentally, who was on the receiving end of the KHL’s fastest-ever hat-trick, when Lokomotiv’s Alexander Korolyuk struck three times in just 9 minutes 19 seconds.
Six goaltenders achieved shutouts during the week. For Alexei Murygin of Amur it was his first since the 28th of January 2010, when he kept Traktor off the scoreboard.
The most ill-disciplined player of the week was Lev’s Ladislav Nagy. On the last day of September he earned 31 penalty minutes in the game against Dynamo Moscow, to add to his two minor penalties picked up in Riga. In all, he made a total of six trips to the bench in the last seven days, one more than Dynamo’s Alexander Boikov.
Dinamo Minsk announced a new and unusual addition to the club’s arsenal. Working with the team will be Thai Boxing world champion Alexander Ustinov. The master of the noble art has been hired to help the coaches keep the players in peak physical condition.
Spartak’s captain and first-choice defenseman Oleg Piganovich is facing a lay-off of approximately six weeks, having sustained a leg fracture in the match against Avangard.
Quote of the week
“The hockey world is concerned about the internal affairs of our club? Well, there is nothing to be concerned about. Everything is fine, that’s what you should write,” - Salavat Yulaev general manager Oleg Gross gives his views on the apparent conflict between Alexander Radulov and head coach Sergei Mikhalyov.
Alexei Shevchenko, special to khl.ru