Frölunda only played two games this past week. In the first, they had a new centre in Jan Mursak, and they played him with Carl Grundström on the third line. Grundström, who is third on the team in goals, shoots the puck a lot, plays net front, but is no one’s idea of a playmaker. Mursak fit in immediately, and he scored two goals, the first of which Grundström got an assist on. The 5-3 win was very satisfying for a team that seems to be figuring things out at just the right time.
Their second game was a nice blow to the ego, a 4-1 loss to Brynäs.
I did some calculations on the team’s shooting rates and found that Grundström is the second highest forward on the team for individual shot rate in all situations (all shots, as the SHL provides misses, this is iCF/60). He’s in a group within one or two shots per 60 minutes that includes all the best offensive players on the team, including Lias Andersson, who was the captain of the WJC team and is likely a much better player.
Interestingly, one of the two people ahead of him is not a forward, it’s Rasmus Dahlin, who shoots a lot, and scores like a very good defenceman, but a defenceman nonetheless.
Last season I cautioned people not to get too excited over Grundström’s early goal pace, because he was getting it from a stratospheric shooting percentage. This year he’s scoring well in fewer games due to injury, and his shooting percentage is high, but not absurd. He’s getting a lot of his success from volume shooting, and that’s what you want your good players to do. Your good forwards, at least.
Grundström now has seven goals and two assists in 19 games. Frölunda have 16 more games to play and are currently in fourth place in the league.
Lokomotiv played three games since last week, as they headed into their All-Star game break this weekend. Yegor Korshkov got one assist, raising his points totals to 23 in 48 games, which is fourth on his team.
The only worrying note was that in a tight game against SKA, the overwhelmingly best team in the league, his number of shifts dropped way down to third line level. It seems as though he’s seen as a scorer who is not defensively trustworthy. Perhaps that is better phrased as his line is seen as not reliable in a close game. It’s always a bit difficult to judge what’s the player, what’s his linemates and what’s his team/coach.
Lokomotiv have five more games before the long Olympic break and have clinched a playoff spot.
Pierre Engvall’s team also played three games this past week, and he played his usual fourth line role. He didn’t add any points, but just to see him step into the regular rotation like he was never gone is very encouraging.
He has six points in 15 games, but while he shoots a good amount for a fourth liner, he’s missing a lot, and that adds up to very few goals.
HPK had a nice win streak this past week, but Jesper Lindgren stayed off the scoresheet. He was not in the lineup for the most recent game after playing second pair in the first two, and I don’t know if there’s an injury there or not.
The VHL was back in action, and Nikolai Chebykin played two games at his usual number of shifts, but didn’t add any points this week. His team is top of the VHL standings and will definitely get some playoff action.
Team had no games this week.
Bars Kazan is not tops in the VHL standings, they’re very mediocre, but they won all three of their games this week. Vladislav Kara got an assist on one bringing his points totals to 11 in 22 games, which is the same number of points that was showing before. I can only assume they revised a scoresheet and took one away. He had 8 points in 34 games last season, so he’s already surpassed that, and he is playing four more minutes per game.
Persons of Interest
CSKA have also clinched their KHL playoff spot, and there are five more games for them before the Olympic break. Igor Ozhiganov notched another assist in a win this week as well as scoring two goals the week before. He now has eight points in 37 games while playing third pair minutes.
The most notable thing about him is that he plays well defensively without taking penalties. The only regular defender with fewer is Alexei Marchenko.