G, Barys, 3 G, 3 W, 94.68%, GAA 1.66
After a challenging start of the season, Barys is gaining pace and is now on a firm eighth place in the Eastern Conference’s standings. The Kazakh franchise is currently on a five-game winning streak, and much is the merit of its goalie, who had a tremendous week between the piping. After resting on the 2-1 OT win over Kunlun, Ortio started taking action with a 33-save win in Nizhny Novgorod. Two days later, Barys had a sensational 3-1 victory in Balashikha. Naturally, the Finnish netminder was among the best for his team, stopping 25 shots and only allowing a powerplay goal in the first period. Against Amur, Barys had an easier life, and Ortio could allow two goals without much difference for the Kazakh franchise. It can be said that Barys finally found its groove, and the team is now looking forward to its third postseason qualification in a row. With such an effort, on Monday, Ortio was named the Best goalie of the 14th week.
F, Salavat Yulaev, 3 G, 7 (5+2) points, +2
The Finnish Salavat Yulaev’s import was on fire last week, leading his team to two wins in three games. Ufa first rolled over Dinamo Minsk with an 8-3 victory, when Granlund first scored the 3-1 goal after a fantastic feed by Teemu Hartikainen, then assisted on a Sakari Manninen’s tally in the third period. The forward scored both Ufa’s goals in the 2-3 defeat against Avtomobilist on Dec. 24, and two days later, he was unstoppable as Salavat Yulaev defeated Sibir in Novosibirsk with a 3-1 score. In the opening stanza, Granlund assisted on Pavel Koledov’s second of the season; then, he scored a goal for each of the other periods — including the game-winner in the middle frame. Granlund — last week’s Best Forward — has produced 38 (17+21) points so far in his first KHL season, and Ufa is currently the fifth seed of the Eastern Conference.
D, Barys, 4 G, 4 (2+2) points, +2
The defenseman had another excellent week with Barys, leading the Kazakh franchise to four straight wins. Moreover, Dietz also reached the 50-goal milestone when he tallied the game-winner in OT against Kunlun Red Star on Dec. 19. The native of Medicine Hat scored again two days later when Barys defeated Torpedo again in OT. Surprisingly, the Barys’ captain remained silent on the score sheet when the Nur-Sultan side had a sensational 3-1 away win over Avangard. However, he posted another two points when Barys returned to Kazakhstan and won another home game, this time against Amur, when Dietz assisted on Curtis Valk’s game-winner and Jakob Lilja’s opening goal. Dietz is one of the league’s top defensemen and has amassed so far 19 (12+7) points in 30 games. On Monday, he was named the league’s Best Defenseman of the 14th week.
F, Barys, 4 G, 5 (4+1) points, +3
Barys was in great shape last week, and Jakob Lilja is another player who had a fine performance for the Kazakh side. After being left scoreless in Barys’ win over Kunlun, the Swedish forward scored in three consecutive matches, including the OT, game-winning tally against Torpedo on Dec. 21. Two days later, Lilja scored another game-winner when he converted a crisp pass by Phil Varone with a soft touch just past Simon Hrubec’s right pad in the middle stanza. In the Dec. 26 game against Amur, Lilja didn’t post the game-winner, yet he was on fire once again as he potted his first double in the KHL and reaching the 15-goal mark in the season. Barys will need his productive forward to keep his pace in sight of the playoffs.
G, Avtomobilist, 3 G, 2 W, 92.54%, GAA 1.70, 1 SO
Avtomobilist’s November and the first half of December were a nightmare when the team led by Bill Peters lost games after games and Kovar finishing some games with a sub-90% of saves, very unusual for him. However, the trend seems to be reversed for the Motormen. The Czech goalie was back to his old self last week, especially on Dec. 26 when he shut out Neftekhimik with a 24-save performance for his 41st KHL career shutout. Two days before, Kovar stopped 18 shots when Avtomobilist defeated Salavat Yulaev with a 3-2 score. Despite the losing streak, the Motormen are still playoffs-bound, being the sixth team in the Eastern Conference. However, when Kovar is in this kind of shape, anything can happen for the Urals franchise.
F, Avtomobilist, 3 G, 3 (3+0) points, +3
Sexton had a disappointing season so far, but last week he had a fantastic game against his former team, Neftekhimik. With the trade deadline coming and clouds over his future with the Motormen, Sexton put together an incredible performance, scoring a natural hat-trick — his first treble in the KHL despite he plays in the league since 2013. The Avtomobilist veteran has now 21 (7+14) points in 33 games — probably not enough for a player of his caliber. Still, Avtomobilist seems to be back on track, and he has all the time in the world to improve his stats and become useful again for the Yekaterinburg side.