G, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, 2 G, 2 W, 91.67%, 1.51 GAA
The Canadian netminder is having a career year in Yaroslavl. Last week, he was instrumental again in defeating Severstal and Dinamo Riga, reaching the 25-win mark and establishing a career-high after last year’s 24 W with Barys. Pasquale started the week allowing two goals to Severstal in a 3-2 away win for the Railwaymen. Then, two days later, on Thursday, the Canadian netminder had a 17-saves performance when Lokomotiv got rid of Dinamo Riga with another excellent showing for the Railwaymen. On Saturday, the team’s head coach Andrei Skabelka let Pasquale rest when Lokomotiv won its third straight game over SKA. With the playoffs starting next week, the Canadian goalie must be in top shape for Lokomotiv. The most likely opponent for the Railwaymen will be Jokerit.
F, Ak Bars, 3 G, 6 (4+2) points, +2
The Frenchman is having a tremendous season in Kazan, and he is a top candidate for the award for the best players of the year. The 2020-2021 campaign started strong for Da Costa, who has now scored the second-most points in his career after reaching 62 in 2014-2015 with CSKA Moscow. Da Costa had an incredible performance on Monday when he potted a double and gave out an assist in Ak Bars’ 4-3 win over Dinamo Riga. Then, Ak Bars lost twice in a row, but the Frenchman kept on scoring. The first victim was Salavat Yulaev, then — on Saturday — Da Costa had yet another multi-point game in Kazan’s loss to Spartak. Ak Bars clinched the first spot in the Eastern Conference standings, and Da Costa was a big part of this success. For his efforts, the French veteran was awarded Best forward of the week honors.
D, Jokerit, 4 G, 2 (1+1) points, +6
The Swedish D-man is in his third year with Jokerit and set a career-high with 19 (3+16) points this year. Moreover, the 28-years-old D-man had a tremendous performance in Jokerit’s 5-2 win in Magnitogorsk. The large-sized Sodertalje native posted no points but had a plus-4 rating in almost 22 minutes spent on the ice. Loov, who is logging for the first time more than 20 minutes a night, also scored points in both the other Jokerit’s game of the week — which the Jokers lost in extra-time. Despite the loss, Loov had another favorable rating, plus-2 this time, in Jokerit’s home defeat against Dinamo Minsk. The Jokers are likely to face Lokomotiv in the playoffs’ upcoming first round.
F, Dynamo Moscow, 3 G, 6 (2+4) points, +3
The Omsk native forward had “only” two goals last week, but they were important ones as he set a record for the most single-season tallies by a Czech player in the KHL. With 36 goals, he surpassed Pavel Brendl and Marcel Hossa, who reached 35 in the KHL’s dawn. Jaskin, who also leads the league with nine game-winners, helped Dynamo reaching four wins in a row, with three straight Ws last week — all away — against Dinamo Minsk, SKA, and Jokerit. Dynamo Moscow will enter the playoffs in top shape, and they may have to face Minsk in an all-Dynamo battle in the postseason’s first round. It’s hard to think that anyone else can surpass Jaskin in the goalscoring race.
D, Traktor, 3 G, 5 (4+1) points, +2
Another team in great shape is Traktor. The Chelyabinsk side is currently the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, and they will likely have to face Salavat Yulaev in a promising-looking playoff’s first round. With last week’s excellent performance, Bailen set a career-high for goals in the KHL with 12, and his 32 points are second only to the 37 he amassed in his first season in the league. Since there are still three games to be played, he may as well surpass that mark, although it won’t be easy. However, Bailen proved to be a key figure in Traktor’s game and showcased fantastic offensive abilities in all last week’s matches. He scored a double against his former team Dinamo Minsk, and tallied two straight GWGs, against CSKA and Metallurg, respectively — the latter being in OT. He also reached the remarkable sum of 18 career game-winners, an excellent achievement for a defenseman. Bailen is expected to log top minutes for Traktor in the postseason, and a lot of offensive success for the Chelyabinsk side is up to him.
D, Jokerit, 4 G, 3 (0+3) points, +4
The veteran D-man keeps on delivering even though his age is running up. Last week, Lepisto didn’t score any goal, but he boasted a plus-4 rating that speaks volumes about his importance for the Jokers — he keeps on playing north of twenty minutes a night, and even if he doesn’t score as he used to do, Lepisto is still a key player for Jokerit. In particular, Lepisto posted a pair of helpers when the Finnish franchise won 5-2 in Magnitogorsk and will be a critical figure in the upcoming playoffs round for the Jokers.