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European report: Not many prospects left standing

Carl Grundström is in the thick of the playoffs, but there is news about some other Leafs’ prospects too.

Carl Grundström back when he was on MODO and MODO hadn’t yet fallen to it’s nadir.
Frolunda HC | frolundaindians.com

The KHL final got underway on Saturday in Magnitogorsk. When the play moves back to St. Petersburg, tensions will be high after the Metro bombing a few days ago. SKA is donating some money to the families of the many victims.

As the final is played over the next two weeks, the Russian national team is preparing for some upcoming games.

They run two teams all the time. The A team, with a varying roster, is the team that plays in the world championships and events like the Euro Hockey Tour. The last stage of that event, the Czech Hockey Games, is at the end of April and serves as a tuneup and selection camp for the World Championships which begins on May 5. The roster for the Czech tournament is yet to be announced, but it will depend on who exits the Gagarin Cup Finals in one piece. Most of the top Russian players are still playing KHL hockey.

Meanwhile there is a set of friendly games against France beginning on April 13, and for that event the Russians are sending their B team, sometimes called the Olympic team. Lately they’ve been using that B team as a U25 team to get a better handle on the state of their young players. A lot of those top Russian players in the KHL final are in their thirties or close to it.

The roster was announced a few days ago:

The names for us to notice are Vladimir Tkachyov, who may not have signed with an NHL team quite yet as he is busy playing more hockey, and of course, Yegor Korshkov. Tkachyov will likely be the top line centre on that lineup, and Korshkov with likely stick with linemate Pavel Kraskovsky.

Carl Grundström

Frölunda have played four games of their second round series against Brynäs since this time last week. Life comes at you fast when the hockey schedule doesn’t have many breaks in it.

In the first game of the series, Brynäs came out strong, and Frölunda did not. They got down early but they turned the tide and staged a comeback that ran out of time to succeed. 4-3 Brynäs was the final score.

The second game brought the best news: the return from injury of Johan Sundström, Grundström’s usual centre and last year’s playoff MVP. The more balanced lineup brought success, but it came from Casey Wellman who had a hat trick and an assist from a team-leading six shots on goal.

Frölunda dominated the possession in this game, and Grundström had some scoring chances and caused his usual amount of trouble getting in tight to the net and digging for pucks. The score was 6-1 at the end, and Brynäs had met the real Frölunda offence.

The next game was more Wellman as he had an astonishing 11 shot attempts to lead the team to another dominating performance. He’s hot, so the team are getting him the puck. He had two goals and one assist in a 6-3 win.

Grundström, hitting his stride with Sundström back, had the second highest shot rate, and it really seems like only a matter of time before his more physical line starts to score.

Game four of the series was Saturday and it started out good. Wellman was still hot, and he tied the game up after an opening Brynäs goal.

Sundström followed up with first, a great chance while Grundström was screening the goalie, and then a goal while Grundström was still driving the net. They are back on form.

Brynäs dominated utterly in the second and tied the game. They were nearly as strong in the third, and got the go-ahead goal. Frölunda tied it up at three, but it was Brynäs with the drive and the luck, and they took it with a goal in the last minute of play after surviving a power play against.

The series is now tied at two games each, and the next game is on Monday.

Nikolai Chebykin

Dynamo Balashikha finished their VHL semifinal round a perfect 4-0, and they don’t begin their final until April 13. Life comes at you slowly when your league takes breaks.

Jesper Lindgren

If you read the Euro Report early last week, you might have missed the late-breaking news that MODO’s J20 team won the junior championship. This is a good sign for the future of the club.

In even more promising news, they have hired Hans Särkijärvi as their new head coach. This is equivalent to the Florida Panthers adding Ken Hitchcock as soon as the season is over. This shows the team is very serious about capitalizing on there good junior players, building for the future, and getting back in the SHL where they feel they belong.

For Jesper Lindgren, that says he’s not stuck on a bad team, like Grundström felt (rightly) he was last year with the club, but that he’s in on the ground floor of a rebuilding team.


That’s all for this week, next week we’ll know the fate of Carl Grundström, Nikolai Chebykin will have played a few games of his final, and we will be very close to the end of the European season with only the World Championships to look forward to to cap it off.