I’ve been doing these sorts of quick recaps, basically just notes when one of the Leafs prospects does something noteworthy. I’ve shared them in the comments, so why not use it as an easy way to write an FTB!
Team Russa vs Team Austria
#27 - Rodion Amirov
#9 - Mikhail Abramov
Artur Akhtyamov got the start for Russia, and looked good with limited pressure coming from Austria. He let in one goal but did make a few nice saves when he had to. Between the dominant game from Russia and it being goalie-talk, I can’t say more than that.
- 15:56 — Amirov takes penalty shot, scores
- 14:04 — Amirov used as 2nd defender on breakout, took pass at own blueline and carried/passed up for clean zone entry.
- 13:21 — long cycle shift for Abramov line, retrieved some loose pucks on rebounds with 4 shot attempts.
- 12:57 — Abramov blocked pass attempt from behind the net into slot.
- 10:52 — Amirov received pass in neutral zone, carried in for zone entry, started give and go where he had scoring chance.
- 6:17 — extended offensive zone shift for Amirov line. He and Podkolzin did heavy lifting on cycle along the boards. Amirov gets 2A on pass back to point, point shot, Podkolzin rebound goal. Real nice shift for those two.
- 1:54 — Abramov comes on mid-offensive zone possession, has nifty give-and-go curl around the blueline that set up a shot attempt.
- 1:12 — right off the faceoff in Dzone, Amirov jumps up and steals a faceoff loss, turning it into easy zone exit and a rush the other way. Very smart, very fast.
- 18:48 — Abramov picks up lob pass in neutral zone, blows around defender and gets chance in close.
- 12:54 — Amirov takes pass in neutral zone, carries into Ozone successfully. Pulls off nifty between the leg move and pass in front. Had a shot in front for good chance right after.
- 10:06 — Amirov on PK picked up puck in Dzone, stopped on a dime to elude Austrian player and cleared it. It was good enough to earn a grunt of admiration from Ray Ferraro.
- 5:44 — Amirov controlled zone entry
- 4:42 — good cycling shift for Abramov, led to shot attempt.
- 2:15 — Amirov skating... he did stuff like this a lot in the game:
Rodion Amirov schmoovin' pic.twitter.com/BqpP0SNy1Q— Dylan Griffing (@Dylan_Griffing) December 30, 2020
- 0:40 — Amirov hopped off the bench and had shot at top of faceoff for clean shot.
- 0:05 — Amirov zone entry and shot assist
- 18:36 — Abramov draws penalty after long Ozone possession and cycling.
- 17:32 — Amirov jumps in to intercept pass intended to exit Austrian zone.
- 14:00 — Amirov plays ridiculous passing in and around Austrian net with Podkolzin and Khustnutdinov. Didn’t score, but Amirov had great shot in the slot.
- 10:44 — Amirov with good chance in front on delayed penalty, Russia controlling the play with a few good chances.
- 10:21 — Amirov pass for zone entry on PP.
- 9:59 — Amirov with chance on 2 on 1 on PP, Austrian goalie with great glove save to rob the goal. This PP is awful though.
- 5:56 — Abramov takes pass at red line, carries in for controlled zone entry, dangles Austrian defender with toe drag and tries to roof it but goalie saved it.
Larionov probably shouldn't scratch Abramov again.— Nick DeSouza (@NickDeSouza_) December 30, 2020
He's so fun to watch. pic.twitter.com/4ykQbd89Rp
- 2:26 — Abramov carried in for zone entry, set up shot assist in the slot. Got shot of his own on rebound. Got another shot moments later that he rang off the post/crossbar, which Russia scored off of rebound. A1 for Abramov. Great shift in Ozone.
This is the Mikhail Abramov show now. He's been one of Russia's best forwards tonight.— Nick DeSouza (@NickDeSouza_) December 30, 2020
Sets up a nice chance, then hits the bar before his linemate puts the puck in. pic.twitter.com/hw8t0vd1r1
- 1:37 — Abramov wins faceoff, leads to goal for Russia. Abramov got the third assist on it.
It’s hard to read too much into this. Russia should have dominated, and they did. The top line with Amirov were always generating chances, and Amirov had two points from their efforts. He was great in transition, looked dangerous in the offensive zone at even strength, and a bit of a bulldog on the PK. The whole team’s powerplay looked awful, aside from one rush chance he and Podkolzin generated.
Abramov looked good as well, and Russia used him more in the third period once the game was out of hand. He was an absolute beast on transition, whether he was passing or carrying the puck. In fact, he led Team Russia on combined zone entries and exits. He had as many as five shot attempts of his own, and had a few shot assists for his teammates as well. His line generated two quick goals late, one that he assisted on after ringing a hard wrist shot off the crossbar, and another that he would have had the third assist after winning the offensive zone faceoff. In fact, Abramov wound up finishing narrowly ahead of Amirov in terms of expected goals and primary assists according to Elite Prospects writer Mitch Brown’s tracking:
#WorldJuniors Day 5 offence recap:— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) December 30, 2020
No particularly close games, but Brink (PHI) led today in xP1, Ponomaryov (CAR) wasn't too far behind. Abramov (TOR) shouldn't be scratched again, while Podkolzin (VAN), Amirov (TOR), and Byfield (LAK) were on fire. Faber (LAK) led blueliners. pic.twitter.com/T9VzVPsa05
Now, I don’t want to overstate either Abramov or Amirov’s games. Austria may be the weakest team in the tournament, even considering Germany’s roster problems. But when facing the same opposition, he led the way over some of Russia’s other top players. He had good chemistry with Gritsyuk and Afanasiev on their second line. And with Chinakhov missing at least one game and potentially facing a serious leg injury, Abramov may have done enough to secure himself a spot in the lineup going forward as well.
As for Artur Akhtyamov... he is a goalie. I can confirm that much.
ONTO THE LINKS
A Detailed Look at Topi Niemelä’s Pro-Grade Habits on the Back End | a very thorough analysis of Topi Niemelä’s play at the WJC so far, with lots of gifs and breakdowns of his various skills.
Toronto Maple Leafs 2020-21 NHL season preview | by Dom Luszczyszyn at The Athletic, who thinks that the Leafs are the clear favourites to win the division and almost a virtual lock to make the playoffs. Did you just feel your chest tighten reading that, like I did?
Empty calories content? Empty calories content. But we love it because we are desperate for Auston Matthews content.
AROUND THE HOCKEY WORLD
The big news was that Jonathan Toews will miss most if not all of this coming season due to health concerns. The specifics were not given in his statement, but what details he did give are worrisome:
Statements from Jonathan Toews and Stan Bowman. Pretty alarming stuff for Toews. pic.twitter.com/sCBf1tKvtg— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) December 29, 2020
A reminder that while we’ve heard from the NHL that they’re making a deal with provinces, there has yet to be official approval:
Atwal says there is still no final deal with NHL.— Bartley Kives (@bkives) December 29, 2020
[NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Thursday a tentative deal has been reached.]
A good thread on what the situation with the AHL is right now, which may also affect things like taxi squads.
I'm going to start a thread on what I am being told about the AHL 2020-21 season.— PATRICK WILLIAMS (@pwilliamsNHL) December 21, 2020
I'm not really one to just throw random speculation out there, so if I'm putting something out there, at the very least I can guarantee that I consider it to be reliable.#AHL
As training camp gets closer, more unsigned RFAs and UFAs are signing or getting closer to signing:
Some progress to report on the Vince Dunn contract talks. Looks like it’ll get done in time for him to be in camp. #stlblues— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) December 29, 2020
We’re also starting to hear about players who will miss some of training camp, or longer:
Report: Jets’ Roslovic will miss beginning of training camp | by Sportsnet, reporting that Roslovic is apparently choosing to not show up to camp yet as he waits to sign a new contract as an RFA or be traded.
We’ll end this FTB with a movie trailer for a Hallmark romance that’s hockey themed: