In the regular season, SKA’s offense was a mighty force. The leading scorer in the KHL, it was the only team to clear 200 goals in its 62 games, finishing with 209. But when confronted with Ilya Sorokin, that goal power evaporates. In two playoff games, SKA has scored on the 23-year-old just twice. In regular season it was a similar story: the teams met four times, CSKA won all four and SKA scored precisely once in each encounter. You have to go back to last year’s playoffs to find the last time the Petersburg team scored on Sorokin twice: the goalie was pulled just four minutes into game six of the Conference Final after allowing goals from Nikita Gusev and Ilya Kovalchuk, but CSKA went on to win 3-2 in overtime. Right now, the 23-year-old has stopped 61 of the 63 shots he’s faced in the current series to help his team to a 2-0 lead.
Taking a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference would put a smile on the face of any coach, but Avangard’s Bob Hartley has been talking up his team’s performances even more than usual. The 2001 Stanley Cup winner described Friday’s 4-3 overtime victory as “possibly the best game I’ve seen in the KHL” and after Omsk’s 4-1 victory on Sunday he added “I think we just played our most complete game”. Hartley, who took up his first KHL post last summer when he joined Avangard, is just two wins away from taking the Hawks to the a first Gagarin Cup final since 2012.
A big part of Avangard’s success has been Taylor Beck’s scoring form. As the Eastern Conference final got underway, the Niagara Falls native had a goal and two assists on Friday, followed by 1+1 on Sunday to stretch his productive streak to 10 games in this year’s playoffs. That matches the club record set by the legendary Jaromir Jagr way back in the KHL’s debut season. Jagr achieved the feat during regular season, picking up 19 (8+11) points between Sep. 26 and Oct. 23. Beck currently has 18 (4+14) points from his current run and leads the postseason scoring race, one ahead of Teemu Hartikainen of Ufa.
Salavat Yulaev forward Linus Omark collected an assist on his team’s goal in Sunday’s 1-4 loss to Avangard and joined Alexander Radulov on 197 helpers for the club. The Swede thus ties Ufa’s all-time record in the KHL and is on the verge of reaching 200 assists. The former Edmonton and Buffalo forward is up to 359 (110+249) in a KHL career that spans 407 games for Salavat Yulaev, Jokerit and Dynamo Moscow.
Avangard defenseman Cody Franson picked up two assists in Friday’s opening game of the Eastern Conference final – and established a new record for his team. He moved on to 14 (3+11) points in this year’s postseason, making him Avangard’s most productive defensive in Gagarin Cup playoff action. Previously, the record was held by Martin Skoula, who had 13 (2+11) points in his two playoff campaigns in Omsk.
The KHL is delighted to announce a new 4.5-year partnership with market-leading software developer SAP. The agreement, signed last week, will help the league streamline its marketing operations, make better use of its game stats information and even drew up the annual schedule more efficiently. In the words of KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko, “The KHL is the first sports league in the world to create a unified CRM system and a unified profile of individual who follow our sport”.