|2008 Super League|
Russian Superleague Round 15. Avangard Omsk vs Ak Bars
For the fifteenth round of the 07/08 Super League Avangard hosts Ak Bars Kazan for a very interesting match up between the two new Meccaís of Russian hockey. For the guests we will see the first RSL start of undrafted Stanislav Galimov, hunting for his first career victory. Bilyaletdinov honors the gala by icing the Danis Zaripov- Sergei Zinovjev (Boston Bruins)- Alexei Morozov (Pittsburgh Penguins) line, arguably the best unit in European hockey. About the hosts, Belousov keeps playing Alexander Popov on the first line instead with Pavel Rosa, icing with Alexei Cherepanov and Anton Kuryanov on the second unit.
The game starts in front of an eager crowd and the first emotions come with a four on four that quickly becomes a power play for Avangard. Nothing happen and itís again a four on four that jumps on the chronicle: after a nice save by Galimov on Alexander Svitov (Columbus Blue Jackets)ís shot, the tempers get hot and Evgeny Artyukhin (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Evgeny Medvedev are sent to the box. Both teams try hard but surprisingly no shots come towards the crease despite the relative openness of the game. The game keeps breaks up as Svitov highsticks Maxim Mayorov to the head. Nothing intentional on Svitovís side but the play was dangerous and thus he deserved the 2+2 penalty. One canít really say that Ak Bars played well the four minutes power play as their only chance was a deflection attempt by Zaripov. They kept the puck for most of the time but without being dangerous. In my opinion they dumped the puck too much, especially when playing with the second and third line. After it the game runs smoothly apart from a couple of questionable offside calls. The goalkeepers arenít heavily involved in the game. But at the eighteenth minute the guests get dangerous as Denis Arkhipov feeds Alexander Golovin (Chicago Blackhawks) in front of the net but the Blackhawks prospect wastes it badly shooting wide. A handful of seconds later Alexei Cherepanov (New York Rangers) turns the light on and breaks in the offensive zone at full speed, Dmitri Pervyshin canít do anything but put him down to penalty. Nothing much happens and the first period ends with the creases still not violated. The game is on a high level of quality, but is not that exciting, both teams are trying to control each other by cutting down the amount of goal chances. The first period made had only ten shots on goal and sixteen icings so we can easily assume than they didnít play their best hockey. Letís hope the things change in the second period
Best prospect of the first period: Mikhail Lyubushin (Los Angeles Kings)
Smooth first twenty minutes for Kingsí prospects as he stayed back in the third playing as easy as possible but he really did no errors thus gaining this nominee. Something has happened with him since he is playing much better than in his other recent matches.
The second period starts with Svitov being sent to the box and consequently the guests are on a powerplay. Guests finally build it well after their failures in the first period and score the go ahead goal with Alexei Morozov that after a wraparound finds a hole in Maxim Sokolovís crease and fills it for the 0-1. †The game turns on. Minutes later Avangard nearly ties it: on a power play (out Grigory Shafigulin for a high sticking),† Nikita Nikitin (St. Louis Blues) makes a great pass out of the zone for Kalyuznhny who gets rid of Ilya Nikulin (Atlanta Thrashers) and arrives in front of Galimov. †The young goalkeeper dives to the ice to poke check him, touching his right skate and thus making him lost the timing and the puck. Kalyuzhny doesnít give up and tries deflecting it in but Ilya Nikulin (Atlanta Thrashers) gets back and saves his team when the puck was on the goal line. †The game has really started and the teams donít economize on. Itís a battle. Denis Denisov (Buffalo Sabres) tries to hit everything, Alexander Popov hits the referee before making a pass. Cherepanov breaks a stick. Avangard pushes and Bilyaletdinov has to ice the energy lines with Stepanov starring, as usual. Like often happens, the pressure put by the hosts drives to a penalty, against Emelin. What a game. Cherepanov smells a good opportunity and forechecks well stealing the puck to Ryasensky feeding Nikitin. The defender tries from the blue line but Galimov rejects with his pads. Cherepanov is around the net and gets the big rebound on the right and tries to score but the guest goalkeeper dives stretching the glove and makes an incredible save to rescue his team. But it canít last forever and at twenty-seventh †Anton Babchuk finds a right hole in his glove hand side and puts the puck there with a blast from the blue line. The game and the crowd can take a breath now, but it doesnít last too much as Cherepanov, in great shape tonight, draws a penalty against Andrei Zubarev (Atlanta Thrashers) and with the delayed call Galimov has to commit to stop a nice shot by Lupaschuk from the right circle. Avangardís powerplay is good and the host goalie has to make some saves. A foul by Popov puts the game 4-on-4 and a not voluntary high sticking by Svitov to Alexei Emelin (Montreal Canadiens) reverts it to 4-on-3 in favor of the guests. The powerplay becomes double once Andrei Zubarev (Atlanta Thrashers) hits back on the ice and the ZZM combination obliges Sokolov to a difficult intervention on Morozov. But with a two men advantage a team has a huge advantage and so Ak Bars spoils it thanks to a nice shot by Giroux that rattles against the post before to get in.
With Ak Bars ahead by one Morozov tries to get more but after failing to control the puck, he took a penalty. It wasnít really what was expected from one of the supposed best players in Europe. The home team and its snipers keep Galimov busy but canít put the puck past him. Ak Bars responds on counterattack at the 17th minute, when the ZZM builds up a good chance, firstly with Morozov and then with Zaripov on the rebound but Sokolov denies both with two big saves. Strong goaltending can save when the team struggles and when Avangard pushes the accelerator is the tying goal: with an awkward pass Ilya Nikulin (Atlanta Thrashers) gives the puck to Alexei Cherepanov (New York Rangers). Alexei Cherepanov (New York Rangers), who else? He serves back Kuryanov, whose shot hits the stick of Grigori Shafigulin and goes in not without luck. Avangard truly deserved the draw of the score, though. After the 2-2 Avangard doesnít let it go and Popov puts on a show by excitingly getting past two defenders getting in front of the goalie but the consequent backhander is weak and Galimov has no problems in dealing with it. As happened before, pressure drives to penalties and at nineteenth the player sent off is Stepanov. This game is all emotions. Evgeny Artyukhin (Tampa Bay Lightning) fakes to have scored and makes Alexei Emelin angry, resulting in a penalty to both players. At the very end of the period Kalyuzhny could have a goal chance but the horn stops him. The second period was really great to follow and we hope that the show remains the same in the third too.
Best prospect of the second period:
Cherepanov hasnít scored but he was everywhere in the second period. He played very well showing determination and desire that many can somewhat not expect from him.
In the start of the third period Avangard seeks the victory as they keep pushing. Galimov shines blocking two shots to Cherepanov but is Denis Denisov who has the 3-2 on the stick but he misses it by deflecting wide from a very favorable position. Bilyaletdinov tries to shake things up by icing the first unit but the music doesnít change and Avangard plays the third symphony as at the sixth minute Artem Chubarov (Vancouver Canucks) deflects in a shot by Anton Babchuk (Carolina Hurricanes) from the blue line. Ak Bars doesnít give up despite the disadvantage and after some minutes the tempers get hot; Kalyuzhny and Medvedev have some trash talking and get two minutes each. With the team made up of four players the game opens up and Cherepanov spoils it and takes advantage of the first true error of the game by Galimov scoring from the left circle with a weak shot that went in because of Galimovís soft approach. Ak Bars tries reacting but† their play is too unorganized despite a continuative use of the ZZM line and canít get anything worth it and Avangard can thus celebrate a deserved home win with the 4-2 result.
Alessandroís Prospect of the game:
One goal and one assist donít tell it all. He played a great all around game being useful even in the forechecking department. When he wants to get something he is capable to get it and itís impressive for a player of his age. And also in this game he showed a lot of determination, despite what many say about him. I think Bykovís national teams roster is lacking something because he is left out.
Honorable mention to Mikhail Lyubushin (Los Angeles Kings)
Nikita has not played a bad game, but not a too good one either. He was up and down in the passing area, as he made for example a great feed at the twenty-fourth for Kalyuzhny and an ugly one later in the third period at the seventeenth when he risked to give an involuntary assist to Ilya Nikulin (Atlanta Thrashers). On defense he played a bit up and down too but he formed quite a solid pairing with Canadian Ross Lupaschuk.
Having Babchuk as partner is useful for him since he can leave the exits from the third to the more experienced teammate. He looked way more confident than his previous games. He played a good game at both ends even if he made a couple of errors, in occasion of Ak Barsí first goal (he was too passive) and at thirty-fourth when he left too space to Morozov but Sokolov made a great job saving his team. He kept the nerves when the game got hot, showing his maturity. He was iced also as a forward during some powerplay stretches and he did quite good, imposing his size in the slot. Mikhail played an interesting game and he fully deserved his high grade.
Readers, what a player! The best player on ice tonight, with one goal, one assist and a lot of good plays. What has impressed me tonight was his dedication, he was willing to give the hundred percent in this game and the results are great, reviewing his performance. I also think that Pervushin wasnít the right player on his line because he wasnít too involved in the game. What to say more? He has all the tools to make the national team and I donít understand why Bykov didnít want to try him out.
Egor Averin (undrafted)
Got nearly no ice time. Played a short shift in the first line with Kalyuzhny and not much more.
Ak Bars prospects
Stanislav Galimov (undrafted)
He played very well in his first start, allowing only one goal because of his fault. This is his first season in the Superleague after the years spent in Chelyabinsk and in Almetievsk, where he played a good High League season.
Stanislav Galimov is a hybrid goaltender with a quick glove hand. His best thing is that he doesnít seem to have the urgency to intervene that characterizes usually young goalkeepers and having good nerves at such young age is not an easy thing to find. During the game he made some good save, mostly with the glove hand, and also one great save during the hottest part of it. Definitely a good game even if he allowed a soft goal to Cherepanov in the end of the game, but probably the result would be the same even if he had stopped that shot.
Evgeniy Ryasensky (undrafted)
Twenty years old Ryasensky, born and bread up in Moscow, is a good two way defenseman who played a very good WJC last winter.
Despite his smaller size, Bilyaletdinov plays him a lot in the penalty killing. He is a defenseman that uses a lot the stick instead of the body in the own end. His presence in the penalty killing was a bit of a hazard because even if he has a good sense of defense with good positioning abilities he is too small sized to log high shorthand minutes and he was outmuscled all the time. He didnít make himself noticeable †too much and sometimes it is a good thing for a defenseman, especially if he is of young age.
Young Pervishin hasnít played a good game as he was on ice for three out of four opponentsí goals. He also played not too many minutes as this high profile team wasnít really made for fourth liners, thus showing that he has to improve his game and to get more mature.
This wasnít definitely the best game for Ak Bars defenders. He made himself notice at the 23rd for a big hit to Nikita Nikitin (St. Louis Blues) but he wasnít too involved in the game even if he made some good defensive efforts. He remains a valuable member of the team and I think Bilyaletdinov can be satisfied about him even when he plays games like this. He finished even in the +/-.
Same as with Zubarev. Even if defense of Ak Bars was quite bad he wasnít the soft part of it. Iíd say that Nikulin and Giroux have played worst defensively, especially the first. †Emelin, like Zubarev, finished even in the +/- and took eight minutes of penalty. He tried to build a lot in the powerplays and Iíd say that he played quite well in the offensive part of the game. He is a valuable part of the team and he played well tonight, but not too well.
Ugly game for Kazionov. He tried hard a lot but in short words, he didnít build anything in offense and he let going too much on defense. His game tonight was way below his standards.
He is another prospect who played below his standards. For this game he went back to his line with Stepanov and Kazionov after playing with Morozov and Zaripov.
In the long powerplay at the start of the game he hadnít handle the puck well, letting the defenders dump it. He looked better in even strength when he tried building combination especially with linemate Kazionov. But to be honest he wasnít enough to get a good grade.
The product of Ust-Kamenogorsk school is a sized forward with a not elegant style of skating. Plays with Obukhov and Arkhipov. He has the best chance in the first period after a nice feed by Arkhipov. He gets the puck right in front of Sokolov but he wastes the opportunity by shooting wide after a clumsy but effective control with the skate. He had some good ice time but he didnít used it well and he also missed some good chances. He must improve his agility if he wants to go far in the hockey world.
Igor Musatov (undrafted)
Played in the kids line with Mikhail Zhukov (Edmonton Oilers) and Kiril Petrov. The line didnít do much also because of their thin ice time. He also looked a bit bad at thirty-first minute when he tried to be fancy but he ended losing the puck.
He lost a key faceoff that drove to the game winning goal by Chubarov. As said first, the line didnít get much ice time, he tried to be the playmaker of the line but he ended up with nothing.
Kirill Petrov (2008 elegible)
He gained some claps at the fifteenth minute when he caressed the puck after a pass by Zhukov to get on the offensive third. With Musatov was the best player of the fourth line but surely he didnít play enough to give a judgement on his game.
Used as spare, he didnít have enough icetime to tell something about him.