F, SKA, 3 G, 7 (3+4) points, +1
F, Spartak, 2 G, 5 (2+3) points, +2
The Finnish dangler went scoreless in the first week of action, then exploded in week two, amassing seven points in just three games. Miro Aaltonen started strong in Nizhny Novgorod, collecting two assists in the Armymen’s 6-4 win over Torpedo. On Sep. 11, he contributed to Andrei Kuzmenko’s opening goal in the 4-2 home win over Lokomotiv. However, the best was yet to come. On Sunday, Aaltonen gave an exhibition of offensive skills, posting a hat-trick and adding a helper as Anton Burdasov opened the score in the first period. In the middle stanza, during a powerplay stint, Aaltonen found the back of the net from mid-range, scoring the game-winning goal.
Veteran forward Jori Lehtera helped Spartak winning two important games last week. The Red-and-Whites first took down Dynamo Moscow in the Capital Derby, then defeated Salavat Yulaev 5-3 o Sep. 9. First, Lehtera worn up the engines opening his account for the season with the game-winner tally against Dynamo. His production then skyrocketed when he had a pair of goals and two assists in Spartak’s huge home win over Salavat Yulaev. It may not be a case as Lehtera missed the next game, Spartak lost to Dinamo Minsk on Sep. 13.
D, Spartak, 3 G, 5 (1+4) points, even
Lehtera wasn’t the only Spartak player to have a breakout week. Swedish D-man Emil Djuse, at his first season in the KHL, also often appeared on the scoresheet, scoring in all three games. Djuse started the season with an assist against Dynamo Moscow, then had a two-point performance when he had a goal and a helper against Salavat Yulaev Ufa. Four days later, Spartak lost at home to Dinamo Minsk, but Djuse was once again on the scoresheet, assisting on goals by Artyom Fyodorov and Martin Bakos. Spartak is now in full playoffs zone, and Oleg Znarok needs top performance by Djuse to keep hopes alive.
F, Dinamo Minsk, 3 G, 4 (3+1) points, +3
D, Dinamo Minsk, 3 G, 3 (0+3) points, +2
Dinamo Minsk had a rocky start of the season, but all its games finished with a goal difference of just one. Last week, the Belarusian franchise lost at home to two contenders — Ak Bars and Salavat Yulaev — but then moved to Moscow to defeat Spartak in OT. The author of the game-winner was Shane Prince, who also scored in the second period to complete his double. The 27-years-old American forward, at his third season in the KHL, also scored in Dinamo’s home loss to Salavat Yulaev and had a helper against Ak Bars.
Offensive defenseman Brennan Menell is yet to score his first goal in the KHL, yet he’s contributing to Dinamo’s season almost like no other. After having a hat-trick of assists in his first KHL game in the home opener against Barys, Menell had another three helpers in last week’s Dinamo Minsk clashes against Salavat Yulaev, Ak Bars, and Spartak. Moreover, against Spartak, Menell logged an incredible time on ice of 29:40. Menell is currently topping the league in assists. Dinamo Minsk is presently the fourth seed in the Western Conference — the Belarusian side needs strong performance from its imports.
F, Metallurg, 3 G, 3 (1+2) points, +1
At his fourth KHL season, Czech forward Andrej Nestrasil found his groove and had a terrific week for Metallurg. If excluding the 0-4 hard defeat against Avangard, Metallurg played well, and Nestrasil had his best game yet against Torpedo. Magnitogorsk had a 3-1 home win, and the Czech forward first assisted Nikolai Prokhorkin’s opening goal, then had a tally himself midway through the game as he converted a powerplay for Metallurg, assisted by Yegor Yakovlev and Juho Lammikko. Metallurg is currently the second seed in the Eastern Conference — once again, Ilya Vorobyov has a good roster at his disposal and can be a dangerous client in the playoffs.