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European report: More playoffs, more wins

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Sometimes the wins are unexpected. Lokomotiv advances, and Frölunda easily takes the opener.

Colorado Avalanche v Montreal Canadiens
Max Talbot celebrating an NHL goal. He scored the winner to send Lokomotiv to the next round.
Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Yegor Korshkov

The KHL second round is rolling on, and I have to confess I was skeptical that Lokomotiv could compete with last year’s finalist CSKA. They’re doing it, though!

They’re doing it by getting a lot of points from their depth lines while the top lines are getting tied up by superior defence. The speed lines haven’t been completely silent, Yegor Korshkov, (#96 in red) sets up his buddy Pavel Kravkovsky for a nice goal here.

Going into Saturday’s action, Lokomotiv had a 3-2 lead in the series, and could close it out at home, paving the way for a meeting with SKA St. Petersburg in the conference final. SKA rolled over their first two opponents like they weren’t even there, but that’s a problem to be solved after the semifinal is over.

During one game this week, it was announced that Brandon Kozun and Petri Kontiola were renewed for next year. Max Talbot, the other third of the top line, has not signed a new contract. If he leaves the team, there is an opening on that top line that has to be filled, but Korshkov and his linemates have played together for years. It seems unlikely they’ll be broken up. More likely is that they will cement their status as the permanent second line.

Saturday’s game was, to put it mildly, a chippy one. The first goal went to Lokomotiv, and it is very interesting to compare Korshkov in this one being the decoy instead of carrying the puck around the net. He does not just have one trick!

With a 1-0 lead in the second, Lokomotiv began the penalty parade giving CSKA a near 2 minute five on three that failed to change the score.

Shortly after, Talbot made it 2-0, and shortly after that, a CSKA player elbowed him in the head. The ensuing melee saw Kozun leave with an injury inflicted by the same player who got Talbot. He got 50 minutes in penalties and the hottest shower. The rest of the game was CSKA trying to start something, everyone taking turns in the penalty box, and a general emotional collapse by the Moscow side. It was Lokomotiv who scored, and the Lokomotiv goalie who withstood all that work shorthanded.

Final score was 3-1, and Lokomotiv and Korshkov are going to the West Conference final. They just beat one behemoth, can they take SKA too?

Carl Grundström

The SHL playoffs use a system where teams 7-10 in the standings playoff to decide the last two teams in the fist round of the playoffs. With that out of the way by mid week, the actual quarter final round got underway.

Frölunda won their opener on the strength of some good but not dominating play and two goals against called back for goalie interference. Carl Grundström had no points in the opener, but he spent a lot of time in front of the opposing goalie, carefully not taking an interference call himself.

Saturday, it was announced that Sean Bergenheim has been suspended for a slew foot in the game that the referees never called. He is out for three games, and that means Grundström has an opportunity to step up, not necessarily onto Bergenheim’s line, but in terms of ice time and impact, he has an opening there to make a mark.

The second game of the series against Skellefteå is today.

Nikolai Chebykin

The VHL playoffs have moved into the quarterfinals, and Chebykin’s team, Dynamo Balashikha, are leading their quarterfinal series three games to one.

He did not appear in the first two games but did play on Friday, where he had one assist in over 14 minutes on the ice. I assume he had some kind of injury and that’s why he missed the games. On Saturday, he played barely 9 minutes in an overtime win and had no points.

Pierre Engvall

Mora IK are off until March 22, when they begin the fight for promotion to the SHL.

Jesper Lindgren

The first round of the J20 finals saw MODO take the best of three series in two straight games. Jesper Lindgren had one assist. They move on to play in the quarterfinals, also a best of three series, later on this week.

Persons of Interest

The Leafs signed the player we never knew they were looking at. However, Miro Aaltonen was at the Euro Hockey Tour where Leafs scouts were likely looking at Vladimir Tkachyov. I don’t think we should assume they’re done signing contracts.

Tkachyov is playing in his playoff game today, leading in the semifinal series 3-2. Ak Bars play the defending champions if they win, but first they have to get their fourth win to enjoy that experience.

Martin Necas is enjoying success in the Czech top division playoffs:

Kristian Vesalainen and Miro Heiskanen haven’t played in any playoff games yet while their teams get serious about competing.