East: Chudinov scores from his own half, Ufa takes its chances. March 20 playoffs20 March 2019, 20:30
Three teams achieved three victories during the week, and yet again Amur was one of them. Hannu Jortikka’s team kept the opposition off the scoreboard in the last two of its trio of triumphs, and allowed just a single goal all week.
As for the men from Minsk, they did need a shootout to ensure one of their three successes, but in their favor we should add that this win in Nizhnekamsk was particularly hard-earned, with Dinamo fighting back from a 0-2 deficit to save the game.
The Magnitogorsk men, with new head coach Fyodor Kanareikin at the helm, have started to drag themselves out of their quagmire and reinforce the suspicion that their early problems were nothing more than a glitch. While it is true their defense is still a little porous, (they were penetrated three times by Yugra and twice by Avtomobilist – neither of whom is the most lethal attacking force,) the offense has at last begun to fire on all cylinders, and the Ural Men’s performance in their 3-1 win in Chelyabinsk at the end of the week was particularly impressive.
Three teams also suffered the pain of three defeats during the week. One has to feel for any travelling fans of Atlant, who led 2-1 at Spartak, 3-0 at Ak Bars and 2-0 at Torpedo, but finished all three games without a single point to show for their efforts.
The other three-time losers were Avangard and Barys, and both failed to manage a goal in their last two games. At least the Omsk men lost narrowly, and moreover were on the road, but two of Barys’s defeats were in front of their own fans in Astana, including a 0-7 hammering from Yugra. However, the Kazakhstan men have some consolation: unlike Avangard and Atlant, Andrei Khomutov’s men did salvage a point thanks to their shootout defeat in Saint Petersburg.
A factor in Magnitogorsk’s revival has been the form of forward Juhamatti Aaltonen (pictured). After a haul of just three goals from the previous 12 outings, Aaltonen burst into life last week. He started with a double against Yugra, followed this with a hat-trick against Avtomobilist, and then his assist in Chelyabinsk made him Metallurg’s top scorer for the new season with a point more than Sergei Mozyakin.
The holder of the current longest shutout series is Metallurg Novokuznetsk goalie Teemu Lassila, who has now played 85 minutes since he last allowed a goal. The goalkeeping hero of the week, however, has to be Yugra’s Edgar Masalskis, whose unbeaten spell in goal ended after 123 minutes 52 seconds. The total length of Masalskis’s run, which stretched back into the previous week, was 148 minutes 35 seconds – the longest so far in the current championship.
Ak Bars forward Lauris Darzins must undergo an operation on his damaged shoulder and will miss four matches
Torpedo forward Ryan Vesce faces a longer lay-off. The Nizhny Novgorod men’s top goal scorer has been plagued by a back injury he sustained last season, and it is likely he will also need surgery.
A less serious problem faces Atlant’s Andrei Zubarev. The defenseman broke a finger and will be out of action for about three weeks.
On the move
Neftekhimik has enlisted the services of defenseman Tuukka Mantyla, who has notched 11 points in 12 games this season for Tappara in his native Finland.
Salavat Yulaev has said goodbye to two of the club’s foreign forwards. Czech Jakub Klepis has gone to Dynamo and scored for the Muscovites on his debut. In contrast, Swede Robert Nilsson failed to arouse any interest from KHL clubs and he moves to Salavat’s lower league team, Toros Neftekamsk.
Quote of the week
“I’m lying around at home all day. With nothing else to do I keep looking at the League standings. I’m already sick of the sight of it. I think our team will finish higher,” – injured CSKA forward Denis Parshin talks about his enforced leisure.
Alexei Shevchenko, special to khl.ru