F, Jokerit, 4 G, 6 (2+4) points, +5
In his sixth season in the KHL, the Espoo native is having excellent performance this year, with 17 (9+8) points in 22 regular-season matches. Last week, with the Jokers playing four games, the Finnish veteran had a six-point performance, scoring in each clash. In four away games, Jokerit collected five points, a result of two regulation wins over Traktor and Salavat Yulaev, and an OT loss to Spartak Moscow. Savinainen scored even-strength goals in the first two games of the week, then had helpers in the next couple. Jokerit is now back to the playoff places as the Western Conference’s eighth seed but has five games to recover and only one point shy of the seventh team — Spartak. With only 73 allowed goas, the Jokers have one of the tightest defense in the league. Savinainen’s experience and offensive awareness will be critical for the Finnish franchise as the playoffs come closer.
F, Kunlun Red Star, 3 G, 5 (3+2) points, +2
The Chinese franchise — this season based in Mytishchi in the Moscow Region, had a positive week, getting points in all the games with two wins and a SO loss. The Canadian forward, in his second season with Kunlun, started the week on a positive note, scoring the opening and the game-winning goal as the Chinese side downed Neftekhimik with a 5-4 score. Werek also had a helper when Tyler Wong tied the game at three midway through the game. After this three-point performance, Werek had another spectacular performance as Kunlun moved to Sochi. On the Black Sea’s shores, Werek tied the game at two in the second period, then assisted Gleb Shashkov’s last-laugh goal late in the third period — it was the Canadian forward’s eighth goal and eleventh assist in the season, respectively. On Dec. 13, Kunlun lost to Dinamo Minsk on SO, and Werek was silent on the scoresheet. The Dragons still got a point, but the playoffs places are still very far, despite the side’s excellent effort of late.
F, Neftekhimik, 4 G, 5 (3+2) points, even
The Wolves are having a rocky season, and the team is currently the last seed in the Eastern Conference, as Kunlun Red Stars took them over last week. One of the few players to have a positive season is the Slovak international Libor Hudacek. The 30-years-old forward, who already has KHL experience accumulated in three seasons with Slovan Bratislava, had an incredible effort last week. However, his performance wasn’t enough for Neftekhimik as they lost all four games. Moreover, Hudacek didn’t manage to score to his brother Julius when the two faced each other in Spartak’s 4-2 victory on Dec. 9. Hudacek scored both Neftekhimik’s goals in the Tatarstan side’s defeat against Dinamo Minsk on Dec. 13. The Slovak forward currently leads Neftekhimik with 27 (13+14) points in 31 games.
D, Spartak, 4 G, 5 (1+4) points, +4
Last week, the Moscow-based franchise had an excellent showing, winning three games of four and surrendering only to Severstal on Dec. 11. The Swedish D-man was excellent for the Red-and-Whites. He scored points in three games, being scoreless only in the Moscow side’s win over Neftekhimik. Djuse started the week with a helper in Spartak’s victory over Jokerit on Dec. 7. Four days later, the blueliner had a goal and an assist when Spartak lost 3-4 to Severstal. However, on Dec. 13, the team led by Oleg Znarok returned to win, defeating Sochi with a 4-3 score. Djuse had two first-period helpers that night, making it two multi-point games in a row. Spartak is currently the West’s seventh seed — a postseason qualification is not off sight for the Red-and-Whites, after last year’s first-round exit against Dynamo Moscow.
F, Ak Bars, 3 G, 4 (3+1) points, +1
The Frenchman is having yet another incredible season and is now over a point per game on average. Da Costa completed a five-game scoring streak with Ak Bars winning all four games of last week. The veteran started the season tallying the goal that sealed the deal in the franchise’s 2-0 victory over Avtomobilist. Three days later, Ak Bars left no chance to Metallurg with another shutout win, with Da Costa netting his 12th of the season in the second period.
On Dec. 11, Ak Bars thumped Dinamo Minsk at home with a thundering 7-2 score, with Da Costa scoring another one and assisting on Nigel Dawes’ tally in the third period. The Frenchmen had his icing on the cake on Sunday, when he scored again as Kazan defeated Jokerit at home with a 4-1 score. Ak Bars surpassed CSKA in the league’s standings and currently tops the KHL with 60 points. Moreover, the team led by Dmitry Kvartalnov can boast the best attack in the league, with 125 goals scored so far.