RW - 22 years old - shoots left - fourth full KHL season
D - 19 years old - shoots right - first year in the KHL
D - 21 years old - shoots right - second season in the Liiga
HPK played three times this week, and they’ve settled firmly on Jesper Lindgren’s spot in the lineup. He was listed as the third-pair right defender in every game, but that’s not how he was ever used. The situation is a hockey classic. The 2RD, Miro Karjalainen, is 22 and in his second season on the team like Lindgren. But unlike Lindgren, he’s 6’7” and had 135 PIM in 36 games last season. It’s like the coach is either threatening other teams with him in the lineup card or really wishes he was good enough for the second pair. Lindgren has the third highest minutes per game played and Karjalainen is last. So, whatever the coach and the lineup card says, the reality is that Lindgren is the 2RD.
HPK won the first game 4-0, and Lindgren played reasonable minutes, while the team is got their seventh defender on the ice in limited situations. Lindgren was kept off the scoreboard in this game.
In their second of the week, a 4-1 loss, Lindgren ended up playing more second pair minutes, while the seventh D sat out the whole game.
In Saturday’s game, Lindgren had an assist on the only goal in a losing effort.
Lindgren has six points in 17 games, which is second for all defenders on the team. He leads the team in Corsi For for defenders, reversing a big weakness of his last season. Guess who’s last? If you said Mr Tall and Truculent, you are correct. He’s also the only negative Corsi +/- on the defence corps.
HPK has moved up to third in the standings, and are having a good start on the season, although they do struggle against top teams.
LW - 19 years old - shoots left - first SHL season
Växjö has been finally scoring some goals now and again, and this week they had three games to try to move up in the standings. On Tuesday they faced Färjestad, and finally converted on their habit of outshooting teams with a 3-2 win. Holmberg had a quiet game, as the team relied on the top line more than usual.
On Thursday, they played Rögle, the other team that never scores, and unfortunately they gave the opposition a lift as Rögle took it 6-3. Holmberg had been moved up to the 2C spot, and the usual 1C was in the third slot. Perhaps they thought Rögle was an easy mark?
The shots were even in the game, but given that Växjö was trailing for most of it, you have to give the nod to Rögle here. Holmberg’s line shot the puck a lot in this game, but were kept off the scoreboard, and their ice time reflected more of a third line usage in reality. (Linus Sandin, brother of Rasmus, had a goal and an assist for Rögle.)
That good underlying performance kept the Holmberg line in the second spot for Saturday’s contest against Mora, the last place team. That turned out to be a very good idea.
Holmberg’s wingers in this one, Dominik Bokk and Julius Junttila were involved in a lot of offence and Holmberg had two assists as the team won it in a blowout.
I got a chance to watch parts of these last two games, and Holmberg’s a smooth skater, is always in good position and is quick to move the puck. He might not have a lot of personal scoring ability, and whoever that was (Corey Pronman, maybe) who compared him to Pär Lindholm was right on target. That’s not goal-video-clip exciting, but it just might get the guy an NHL job someday.
Holmberg has two goals and three assists in 15 games. He’ll be going to the Four Nations junior event this week. The SHL closes up shop for 10 days for the Euro Hockey Tour senior national team event in Finland.
RW - 18 years old - shoots left - first pro season in the VHL
Lada played two games this week, and Semyon Kizimov is just keeping on keeping on with this team. They won both games, which they do a lot, and he had one assist. He plays 16 minutes per games, regular as clockwork.
He’ll also report to the Four Nations event this week, and he’ll miss a few games as the VHL does not take time off.
Kizimov has two goals and five assists in 18 games so far this season on his usual 19 shifts per game.
Winger - 21 years old - shoots left - third VHL season
Nikolai Chebykin had a mixed week where he took a game misconduct in one game and barely played and then returned to his usual limited minutes in the next. He has three goals in nine games so far, and is not playing the sort of minutes he did last season.
Winger/C - 20 years old - shoots left - third pro season, first in the KHL
Ak Bars is the defending KHL champion, and they’re sitting in third place in the East, and might feel like it’s time to get serious about things. They’ve played more than one-third of the KHL season so far.
With that in mind, Vladislav Kara played another bigger minute game, getting in over 13 minutes against the hapless Admiral team as Ak Bars easily beat them. He had three shots on goal, but no points, and the decision was made to send him to the VHL.
Kara showed up for Bars, and he got in three games in five days and played 21 minutes per game. That’s a bit of a change! (Ak Bars means snow leopard. So calling their VHL team Leopard would be like Toronto calling the Marlies the Toronto Leafs.)
In those three games, Kara had two assists, and I cannot find a lineup card to tell me if he played centre or wing. Some time playing high up the lineup might be very good for him, since it’s really hard to get any offensive game going in 10 short shirts per game.
I saw Vladimir Bobylyov’s name on a scoresheet getting a penalty, so an update on him is in order. He had three assists in 17 games on the same team Chebykin plays for, playing about the same minutes. There’s really unlikely to be a KHL callup for either of them at this point.
Martins Dzierkals played in two more games, very limited minutes with nothing much to show for it. He looks like he’s struggling to keep that roster spot in the KHL.
Also, name that former Marlie:
Next week will hopefully be full of goals from Four Nations and good news elsewhere.