Both these teams had good and bad streaks in the regular season. At times, both forged ahead at the top of the Chernyshev Division; at others, the two clubs played on their fans’ nerves as a playoff place looked to be in doubt. And, in this opening playoff engagement, the teams replayed that sequence in microcosm, mixing great passages of play with alarming lapses. Salavat Yulaev allowed a three-goal lead to slip before securing its victory; Avangard slumped to a seemingly hopeless position before rallying hard to tie the game. Both teams lacked consistency but will have grounds for optimism going into tomorrow’s meeting.
To mark the end of the final week’s play of the regular season, the Kontinental Hockey League has named the best players of the week in four categories.
A dramatic final day of action in the Eastern Conference went down to the wire. First, Amur lost in a shoot-out at Admiral, only to learn that it had secured a playoff place after Sibir went down at home to Traktor. That left Avangard needing a win in regulation time to make the top eight – and after trailing 1-3 at Barys, the Hawks got there with 60 seconds to spare.
Ak Bars secured top spot in the Eastern Conference thanks to a victory at home to Torpedo, while its closest rival, Neftekhimik, stumbled against Lada. Wins for Amur and Sibir put them one step away from freezing Avangard out of the playoffs, while Severstal’s win at CSKA put pressure on Spartak and Dynamo Moscow in the West. SKA’s rested its Olympic stars in Helsinki, and went down to defeat at Jokerit.
In part four of our country-by-country series of Olympic previews, we turn our attention to the reigning Olympic champion, Canada, who for the first time this century will be fighting for gold without their leading players from the National Hockey league. As a result, head coach Willie Desjardins called upon no fewer than 12 players from the KHL (and also Linden Vey, now at Zurich, but who was plying his trade at Barys Astana when he was named in the roster).
The hockey world has been focused on the Winter Olympics this week – but that doesn’t mean life comes to a halt for the KHL. We’ve been pointing our telescopes at the Gagarin Cup, finding out about life at Neftekhimik … and spotting a link between a KHL hero and the Russian Women’s hockey team in PyeongChang.
In the third of our country-by-country series of Olympic previews, we sought the views of Team Finland General Manager Jere Lehtinen about putting together the roster, the role of the sixteen KHL players in the team, and the nation's hopes and expectations from the upcoming tournament.
KHL.ru presents a series of previews devoted to the teams competing for hockey gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. The Games get underway on Friday, the 9th of February, and the hockey tournament runs from the 14th to the 25th. Today, we spoke to Team Sweden head coach Rikard Gronborg about his team and their expectations for the forthcoming event.