Kazan (19:30 msk)
To mark the end of the fourth calendar month of the 10th Championship, khl.ru continues its new feature, in which we have sought out renowned experts from the world of hockey to choose a Team of the Month – the top goalie, the two finest defensemen and the three best forwards in the League over the given period.
We asked Alexander Fomichev, Alexander Guskov and Alexander Boykov to put together the five finest skaters and best goalie for our November Team of the Month.
Emil Garipov (Ak Bars)
8 games, 3 wins, 2 shutouts, 94.3 save percentage, and 1.62 goals against average.
Alexander Fomichyov, Championship of Russia bronze medalist, former Team Russia goalie, and now a resident expert on KHL-TV and Match-TV:
Emil started the season well, but many still harbored doubts that he could claim the Number One spot in the Kazan goal. Even though Timur Bilyalov had not been getting much ice time, there were several skeptics predicting that Garipov would not get an extended run, but the coaches showed they had confidence in him and he has fully justified their faith. He has clearly been working very hard, including on his technique. His movement is now far more fluid and this has been yielding results. He is now one of the finest goalies in the KHL. The Kazan team has some big games ahead, and it will be interesting to see the performances of a highly experienced netminder who has already played in a Gagarin Cup final.
Nikita Tryamkin (Avtomobilist)
10 games, 7 (3+4) points, +9, average ice time 21:59
Ilya Nikulin (Dynamo Moscow)
10 games, 7 (1+6) points, +4, average ice time 24:58
Alexander Guskov, two-time Championship of Russia gold medalist, World Championship silver medalist, and now a resident expert on KHL-TV and Match-TV.
In addition to the fact that Tryamkin is scoring points, and generally contributing a lot in offense, he has a great plus/minus figure. And all is well in the defensive side of Nikita's game. In my opinion, if at the beginning of the season he had potential but had not really proved himself, then we must all now concede that he is producing hockey of the highest level. The call-up to the Russian national team gave Nikita a boost and encouraged him to show more of his best qualities. This past month suggests he is on the right track, and he has every chance of becoming a regular member of Team Russia.
Nikulin has been very consistent this season. There is a saying, “Consistency is a sign of skill,” and Ilya has skill in abundance. Over the last few years he has become Dynamo's finest defenseman, and has shown that it is not age, but professionalism that counts. At times such as these, with a team in the transition stage, Ilya's consistency has heped the Muscovites tremendously. Moreover, not every defenseman can keep up with the forwards in the scoring stats. Nikulin is an indispensable player for Dynamo.
Emil Galimov (Neftekhimik)
8 games, 10 (5+5) points, 0, average ice time 19:13
Vadim Shipachyov (SKA)
6 games, 10 (4+6) points, +5, average ice time 16:36
Lukas Radil (Spartak)
10 games, 9 (4+5) points, +9, average ice time 18:37
Alexander Boykov, four-time Championship of Russia medalist, former Team Russia forward, and now a resident expert on KHL-TV and Match-TV.
Emil Galimov is having one of his best seasons in the KHL. At Neftekhimik he has earned more playing time, he is making a bigger impact on the game, and he has confirmed he is one of the leaders of the team. The men from Nizhnekamsk are now fourth in the Eastern Conference, and by points they are in third, and Galimov took points from every match in November – a terrific run of eigth matches. Emil is now at that age when you can produce your best hockey in every game, and this is what he has been doing.
Vadim Shipachyov is slowly returning to top form, aided considerably by his being surrounded by similarly great players at SKA, and the team has a huge lead at the top of the Championship standings to illustrate its current dominance. In such a team it is not too hard to be firing on all cylinders, and Shipachyov's skill set allows him to do this as swiftly as possible. He is still not at his peak, however, but his presence is a big bonus for the Army Men. For example, on his first game back from North America, Vadim managed to score and the goal turned out to be the game-winner. We have come to expect productive games from him, and it is a great tribute to him that even when he is still not at his best, he is stil one of the most dangerous forwards in the League.
Lukas Radil is now one of the top scorers at his club. Spartak, and the team recently embarked on the best winning best in its KHL history. The Red-and-Whites' resultant rise up the League standings now sees them occupying a playoff spot after languishing near the bottom of the Conference in the early weeks of the Championship. The club's Foreign Legion now look like real leaders, producing top-class hockey, while Lukas is receiving regular call-ups to the Czech Republic national team. He even picked up an injury, but recovered rapidly and continued to enjoy a good season, and, alongside Stoa, Maxwell and Khokhlachyov, he is a vital component in the Spartak machine.