In case you were wondering (and even if not), the reason it has been over a week since I've reported on my boys from Yaroslavl (AKA Lokomotiv) is twofold. First, the league actually took a week off, and didn't play until last Wednesday. Second, The KHL site was doing wonkiy things on my computer and was hard to read- until this morning when my computer announced that it was because it was blocking what it considered a pop-up but was in truth most of the site! So now, it's time to get caught back up.
Wednesday they played the first of three straight home games, against Slovan. Semyon Varlamov racked up his second shutout since coming over in the NHL lockout, posting 32 saves in a hard-hitting 4-0 victory. Maxim Trunyov got us started with his 3rd score of the season at 6:16 of the first, and Alexei Kalyuzhny made it 2-0 at 6:49 of period two, his 6th, with an assist from Viktor Kozlov. Artyom Anisimov put in his third at 2:51 of the last period, and exactly a minute later, a cross ice pass in front of the Slovan net was stolen by Roman Lyduchin (who came to us this year after 4 seasons with Spartak), who planted his 1st of the season behind the shell-shocked goalie for Slovan for the 4-0 win.
Friday we hosted Lev Prague. After a scoreless opening stanza, Lev scored halfway through the second, and held a 1-0 lead most of the rest of the way. With just under 5 minutes to play, though, Alexandr Chernikov scored his 5th to tie things up. We went to OT, and you KNOW how we are in OT. The first shot of the extra period, 28 seconds in, went from the stick of Staffan Kronwall past the goalie for a 2-1 win. It was our defenseman and leading scorer's 6th goal on the year, and made us 6-for-6 in OT and shootouts.
Yesterday, we hosted CSKA (Red Army). Things didn't go very well for Varlamov in the opening period. In a period where each team only had 5 shots on goal, two found their way behind him. The first came from Yakov Rylov at 6:44, and the second with 31 ticks left in the period, from Mikhail Grabvosky, a lockout from the Toronto Maple Leafs, with assists from fellow lockouts Pavel Datsuk of the Red Wings and Alexandr Radulov of Nashville.
The second period was vastly different. Starting at 15 seconds in, Lokomotiv got 3 goals in 3:16. Sergei Plotnikov took advantage of CSKA not being able to clear their net to score in a scramble; just under a minute later, Vitaly Vishnevsky shot one from high on the boards on goalie Ratislav Stana's right and Yuri Petrov tipped it in for a 2-2 tie. It was the first for Petrov, a veteran of Lada Togliatti who went to Sibir when Lada was demoted to the VHL. Two minutes and twenty seconds later, Anisimov put us on top 3-2 in another scramble, which like the first one netted an assist for my boy Emil Gallimov. The goal was Anisimov's 4th, and spelled the end of the night for Stana. It also spelled the end of scoring, and Lokomotiv had a 3-2 win.
This puts us at 13 wins, 5 losses, 6 OT games (in which we have 2 wins in OT ant 4 in the shootout). 55 points, tied with Dynamo Moscow (14-5-7) for best in the league overall. SKA (17-6-2) and Traktor (15-4-6) are next at 53 points. Dynamo hosts Vityaz tomorrow, while we travel to Moscow's CSKA Ice Palace to play a rematch with Red Army on Wednesday.
Not too surprisingly, Locked out NHLers Radulov (36), Sergei Mozyakin (34), Evgeni Malkin (31), and Ilya Kovalchuk (28) hold down the top 4 spots in league scoring. We are not a high scoring team- but we have a balanced attack with eight players with 10 to 12 points (Kalyuzhny and Anisimov at 12, Kronwall and Niklaus Hagman at 11, and Plotnikov, Petrov, Chernikov, and Yegor Averin at 10). However, we are a great defensive team and Varlamov leads the league in save percentage, with Vitaly Kolesnik in fourth, with Curtis Sanford having an even better percent than either of them in just 4 games! This puts us tied with Ak Bars for fewest goals allowed (49, 4 better than Traktor and Dynamo), even though we only rank 13th in goals scored (68, a whopping 31 behind SKA and 15 back of second place Traktor).