The season didn’t start well for the Minsk men, with only one win in four games, but indeed the start of the season was luck for Teemu Pulkkinen. The forward, at his second year in the KHL, scored in each of the first four games of the season and is currently leading the League in goals and is tied in the top place for points. Adding two goals from the very end of the 2018-19 campaign – against Vityaz and Jokerit – means that the Finnish international has seven goals in six straight games, a club record for Dinamo Minsk. The 27-years-old forward had also an assist in the team’s losing effort against HC Sochi – his only multi-point game so far. Pulkkinen’s game will be a massive factor for Dinamo’s rest of the season – Minsk absolutely needs goals from his leader. The forward was just elected the best forward of last week.
The Canadian forward with a German passport had a tremendous start of his KHL career with five points in only three games. Brooks Macek – who faced Team Russia at the memorable 2018 Olympic Games finals – scored an assist in his debut KHL game against Severstal, then scored two points in each of the next two games, against Vityaz and SKA respectively. Most likely, the most important goal was the 1-0 marker in the game against SKA, when he got the puck from defenseman Yefim Gurkin in Avtomobilist’s zone while killing a penalty and went all the way through the rink to beat Pyotr Kochetkov with a top-shelf, laser-like wrist shot. Avtomobilist won the game with a 5-2 score. Macek fit perfectly into Avtomobilist’s lineup, and the team will look even better once that Pavel Datsyuk and Anatoly Golyshev will be back from their injuries.
It looks like there won’t be any sophomore slump for the veteran Canadian defenseman, who started his second season in the League on a positive note. Cody Franson posted a double in the Opening Cup game against CSKA Moscow and added another tally against Jokerit two days later. He currently leads all the KHL defensemen with three goals. It may be just a coincidence, but Franson stopped scoring, and Avangard lost to Severstal with a sensational 5-1 score. The blueliner showed excellent shooting abilities and a lot of poise, and even if Chudinov’s goal gained more headlines, Franson’s snipes weren’t less lethal. Unfortunately for the Hawks, the defenseman missed Sunday’s home game against Torpedo (Avangard won 4-2). Avangard will definitely considerable its leading defenseman in the matches to come.
Jokerit had a rocky start of the season, but a few players had strong individual performances. One of the best of the bunch was the newcomer Mikko Lehtonen. The 25-years-old blueliner scored a goal in his debut game in the League on Sep. 3, when he had the only Jokerit’s tally of the match that the Finn side conceded to Avangard with a 1-3 score. After a silent game against Ak Bars, Lehtonen had a goal and an assist when Jokerit defeated Dinamo Riga on Sep. 5. The Finn team needs to win some games to gain momentum, and a strong performance from Lehtonen on the back will be certainly welcomed by Lauri Marjamaki.
Since Juha Metsola got to the KHL in 2015, he is continuously among the best goalkeepers in the League. The Finn goalie started his second year in Ufa pretty much the same way he ended the first – stopping almost every shot sent to his net. Metsola won two of three matches last week, getting only a SO defeat against Kunlun in the season’s first game. In spite of the disappointment, the Finn posted a shutout the next day, when Salavat won 0-2 in Shenzhen. Back in Russia, Metsola backstopped Salavat Yulaev with a 32-save effort to allow the Green Jerseys to defeat Sibir in a 3-1 game. The Finn netminder has just been named the best goalie of the first week of play.