Saint Petersburg (17:00)
Nizhny Novgorod (18:00)
Saint Petersburg (19:30)
Before last season, Dinamo and Severstal had never crossed cup paths in the KHL, and their series in March 2021 was one of the best in the entire first round. The competition went on for only five games, and if not digging into details, it would seem that the 4:1 win for the Muscovites was easy and convincing, but that wasn’t exactly the case. Only one goal separated the teams in game one, while Cherepovets won the second game 5:2 with a very convincing performance. In the third match, the Blue-and-Whites saved the game with just two seconds missing; in the game four they got revenge for the second game — winning 5:2 — but two goals of five were scored in the penultimate minute and a half, including an empty netter. Well, in the fifth game Dynamo confidently led by the middle of the match — 4:0, but then conceded three goals and hardly managed to keep the victory.
In the current season the rivals met twice, and exchanged home victories — 3:2 in Moscow and 4:2 in Cherepovets. Daniil Vovchenko scored in both games, while Oscar Lindberg had a double. Vovchenko is Severstal’s leader and its main offensive asset: 14 goals scored, 18 assists, and 32 points are the best indicators on the team. Compared to the numbers from Dynamo’s captain Vadim Shipachyov, another Cherepovets hockey standout, they pale in comparison (24+43). Few other teams can compete with Shipachyov on equal terms: he is the sole leader in points and assists in the league, and is second only to Vityaz’s Niko Ojamaki and teammate Stanislav Galiyev in the goal-scoring ranking. The duo of Shipachyov and Galiev is a fantastic weapon for Dynamo, especially in powerplay situations. Together with Eric O’Dell, they scored 24 power play goals (season’s best), with Lindberg scoring another 13 (eighth best).
Severstal is not very impressive in terms of powerplay realization: on average, they need nearly ten minutes on the power play to score a single goal. By comparison, Dynamo need less than six and a half minutes on average, and only Avangard’s special teams are more efficient in that regard. The Andrei Razin’s men, however, are only in 13th place among playoff teams. The difference between the two teams is not as big, but it also favors the Blue-and-Whites: only Jokerit and Magnitka are more efficient than they are, with six other teams standing between Dynamo and Severstal.
The Muscovites concede more often (average of one goal per 26.85 minutes vs. 29.31 for the Cherepovets), but they score more often as well (22.2 vs. 27.36 minutes). Of these four listed values, three are at a good level, but 22.2 minutes per goal is an excellent result, with only Magnitogorsk again being higher.
Alexei Kudashov and Andrei Razin are some of the most interesting coaches of this season: their teams are getting good results, and at the same time their play is entertaining to watch. They played themselves for Dynamo Moscow in the early 2000s. They played in the same unit for most of the 2001-2002 season, and scored a lot with each other’s assists. The next year Alexander Golts joined Dynamo, and Kudashov moved to another line; when Golts left — to join Severstal, by the way — Zinetula Bilyaletdinov restored the tandem. If that’s not enough, Bilyaletdinov used to play for Vladimir Yurzinov, who played for Arkady Chernyshov (and Bilyaletdinov was also one of his heirs), so both Kudashov and Razin can be considered direct successors of the great coaching dynasty from the very origins of Russian domestic hockey.
During the Olympic break, Cherepovets played in a tournament in Kazan, where they lost in OT to Neftekhimik (4:5), defeated Ak Bars (4:3) and lost to Lokomotiv (2:5). Later, they played two more friendlies with Lokomotiv — 4:0 at home and 1:1 in Yaroslavl. Dynamo Moscow’s players, while their head coach was busy with Team Russia at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games, were preparing under Alexander Savchenkov (he played in 2002-2003 and a year before on a unit with Kudashov and Razin) and defeated Avangard 4:1. And after Kudashov’s return, they met twice with Barys — 3:4 SO and 6:3.
As a rule, the tensest series in the first round are the series between the fourth and fifth teams in the conference, which is logical: the proximity in the standings suggests a similar level of play. Objectively speaking, Dynamo’s level seems to be higher — in roster depth, selection of players, and their combined experience, as well as in the overwhelming majority of statistical indicators: somewhere slightly higher, but somewhere much higher. Cherepovets has only one trump card — the Andrei Razin’s men, along with Traktor, are the most successful at home. They’re seeded fifth, so there’ll be a maximum of three home games in this series; there’s a need to find other reserves. A year ago, they found those reserves, but also lacked some luck and concentration. But Dynamo is noticeably stronger now than a year ago. In any case, it will be exciting.
The series Dynamo Moscow — Severstal plays on Mar 2, 4, 6, 8 and, if necessary, 10, 12, and 14.