Spartak went into the new season under the guidance of rookie head coach Boris Mironov, but immediately showed that the team packed a punch. The Red-and-Whites won four of their first five games of the season and continued to pick up points against their immediate playoff rivals. Moreover, they often gave the top teams plenty to think about it.
In late December and early January, Spartak reeled off a five-game winning streak to secure seventh place ahead of Dinamo Minsk. Then, right at the end of the regular season, two losses in the Far East saw Lokomotiv steal ahead in the battle for sixth place. When the regular season was halted, Spartak had more points – 56 against 55 – but Lokomotiv enjoyed a better PPG (58.51 against 58.33).
Jokerit’s withdrawal from the playoffs saw Spartak move straight into the second round. It was the first time since 2010 that the club had featured this late in the season and that long wait was rewarded with a crushing 6-1 victory over SKA in Petersburg to start the series. However, that was as good as it got: SKA won the next four games by the same 2-1 scoreline (once in overtime) to progress to the Conference final. But that series of one-goal games highlights the battle that Spartak brought against a higher ranked opponent.
41 (11+30) points in 50 games
It was widely recognized that the center, who turned 34 during the season, was losing his speed. Nonetheless, the Finn was Spartak’s leading scorer. Whichever way you look at it, he was a big help to his team: great figures on the face-off dot (58.3%), leading the team in assists and a great ranking of +13, the best at the club.
38 (18+20) points in 51 games
Back at Spartak after a season with Avangard, Khokhlachyov had a great season. This was the fifth time Alexander posted 30+ in a single campaign. He was Spartak’s leading goalscorer, consistently finding the net throughout the season, and it was rare for him to end a game without picking up a point.
20 (13+7) points in 49 games
At Spartak, Drozdov took his game to a new level. Previously the forward was at Dinamo Minsk, but he made little impact there. But in a red-and-white uniform, this energetic winger came to the fore. The results speak for themselves – 12 goal in regular season and another in the first game of the playoffs.
Boris Mironov can be proud of his first season as a head coach in the KHL. True, Spartak was unable to build on its opening win in the series against SKA, but the Red-and-Whites played attractive hockey throughout the season.
“There are things to work on, we’ll look to the future. We still need to get better. The second round is not our limit. Everybody wants to win the cup, nobody wants to go home after two rounds,” said Mironov as he summed up the season.
Even allowing for Drozdov, who turned 22 during the season, the brightest emerging star at Spartak was undoubtedly Alexander Nikishin. The 20-year-old blue liner had a wonderful campaign, collecting 14 (9+5) points and looking solid in his defensive duties.
Another D-man, Yegor Savikov, played 18 games in the regular season and three more in the playoffs, averaging 6:39 in ice time. He also grabbed his first KHL goal, scoring the fifth goal in his first playoff appearance.
Vasily Ponomaryov is also worth a mention. The young forward didn’t feature much, averaging around five minutes in his 14 appearances. But he found time to get his first points in the KHL, scoring on Jokerit and adding an assist against Neftekhimik.
So far, there hasn’t been a high-profile arrival to excite the fans. However, the club’s work to date has kept the team’s foundations intact. In addition, talented Kazakh forward Maxim Musorov was added to the roster and Roman Lyubimov returns after playing part of the 2020-2021 season with Spartak.