Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Omsk's Alexei Cherepanov nets game-winner in 4-3 win over Torpedo Novgorod

New York Rangers 2007 1st Round draft choice Alexei Cherepanov scored the game-winning goal today in the 3rd period of Omsk's 4-3 win over Torpedo Novgorod. Alexei is off to a great start this season (his 3rd with Omsk), already having scored 6 goals, which is good for 2nd on the team (behind Jaromir Jagr's KHL-leading 10). In 2006-07, Cherepanov set the rookie goal-scoring record in the then Russian Super League with 18 goals, breaking the record previously held by Pavel Bure. Cherepanov will look to improve on his early-season success when Omsk, who has won six straight games, takes on Atlant Mytischi at home on Friday.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Jersey Devils D Anssi Salmela draws praise in his North American debut

When you are vying to make the team, you need to stand out from your competition. That's exactly what New Jersey Devils defenseman Anssi Salmela did last night in his pre-season debut against the New York Rangers. Anssi logged 17:42 of ice time and delivered 5 hits in last night's game, while also seeing some time at the point on the power play, and was impressive, making quick decisions. New Jersey's blueline already consists of seven defenseman on one-way contracts, so the task ahead is a tough one for Salmela, who led all SM-Liiga defenseman in goals in 2007-08. Last night's effort moved him much closer to that goal of being on New Jersey's opening night roster. With five of six defensemen already pencilled in, there is only one remaining spot on the Devils' blueline.


Salmela impresses Sutter

I'll have to admit I was wrong because everyone else seemed to be impressed with Anssi Salmela's play in the Devils' 3-2 preseason win over the Rangers tonight.

Most notable among those impressed was Devils coach Brent Sutter.

"I thought he played well," Sutter said. "He was involved in the game. He made some good decision with the puck. He made some good decisions on the blue line when he had the puck in the offensive zone. He knew how to get pucks through to the net. He played well. When he was in situations to finish checks he didn't take himself out of position to finish a check and yet he was assertive in doing so."

Sutter was not aware that Salmela played a physical game.

"I found out tonight it was," he said. "I had never seen him play before. He played well."

Salmela said the hits, he delivered a hip check on Brandon Dubinsky in front of the Devils' bench 2:49 into the game, helped him get into the flow.

"If you can play with the puck and get a couple of hits, it helps you get in the game, so I tried to get a couple of hits at the start of the game," he said.

Salmela was satisfied with his performance.

"It was OK, I thought," he said. "I got to play a little bit on the point on the power play, so that helped to get into the game."

Salmela said his knee, which kept him out of most of the team's developmental camp in July, has not bothered him so far in training camp.

"It's good," he said. "Sometimes it's a little sore, but it's OK right now."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Johan Gustafsson named best goaltender at 2008 TV-Pucken

Farjestad goaltender Johan Gustafsson was named the best goaltender at the TV-Pucken tournament, which concluded yesterday. TV-Pucken is Sweden's national tournament for players under 17; the tournament consists of 24 teams. Johan finished 7th in save percentage (.930) and 9th in goals against average (2.25) in the tournament for Team Västmanland. Johan is currently the #3 rated Swedish prospect for the 2010 NHL Draft, according to Hockey's Future. The Koping, Sweden native will join Farjestad within the month.

Friday, September 19, 2008

News & Observer Interview with Carolina Hurricanes Defenseman Anton Babchuk

Three questions: Anton Babchuk

Defenseman Anton Babchuk is back with the Hurricanes after playing last season for Avangard Omsk in the Russian Superliga, signing a one-year, $1 million contract.

During the 2006-2007 season, Babchuk was briefly suspended by the Hurricanes when he refused an assignment with the AHL's Albany River Rats. He relented and reported to Albany, and was later recalled by the Canes. But after the season, the Kiev native left for Omsk.

Here's what Babchuk had to say this week.

Q: When you left for Russia, did you ever envision a return to the Canes?

A: "I always hoped I'd get another chance to play here. I felt if I played well over there, I'd get the chance. And it's happened and I'm excited abut it."

Q: Was it tempting to just stay in the Russia and continue to play?

A: "I played in Omsk. It's kind of funny. (Former Canes goalie) John Grahame goes to that team and I go here. We kind of switched.

"When the season was over, the Omsk team gave me an offer for even more cash money than here. But like I said, I wanted to play in the NHL, in the best league against the best players."

Q: Do you feel your game changed noticeably during the year away?

A: "I think I improved. Last year, I played with the first unit, in all situations — PP (power play), PK (penalty kill), got a lot of ice time. I played all the games in the season and the playoffs. So I think my game is improved since the last time I was here.

"When you get older and more mature, you know how to handle it better when a bad game happens. It's just one game, it's a long season. You have good games, have bad games. As you get older and older, you know how to get away from (a bad game) and make sure your game gets better and better."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Danny Markov's 1st goal of the season leads Dynamo Moscow over Torpedo on Wednesday night

Dynamo Moscow defenseman Danny Markov scored his first goal of the season, a powerplay goal at the 13:38 mark of the 3rd period, in yesterday's 4-1 win over Torpedo. Markov, who was offered a contract by the Los Angeles Kings prior to the start of the KHL season, recently signed a 3-year contract with Dynamo Moscow and has played well early on, playing roughly 18 minutes per contest and notching 2 points in 7 games. Danny's re-signing with Dynamo solidifies a blueline that already features former New York Ranger and New Jersey Devil Karel Rachunek as well as 15-year NHL veteran Alexei Zhitnik. Dynamo is currently tied for the 2nd most points in the KHL with 15 and will face Atlant Mytischi tomorrow on the road.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

CSKA's Sergei Shirokov leading his team in scoring

Sergei Shirokov has began the KHL season on fire, entering today's game against Vityaz Chekov with a team-leading 3 goals, 5 points and a +4 plus/minus rating. A 5'10", 175 lb winger, Shirokov was a 6th Round draft pick by Vancouver in 2006 and has developed nicely playing in Russia; this is his fifth season playing for CSKA. Shirokov notched his 4th goal of the season today in a 4-1 road victory over Vityaz to improve CSKA's record to 3-1-1. Due to the lack of an IIHF Transfer Agreement, Vancouver retains the rights to Shirokov, who is currently ranked among Vancouver's top 10 prospects by The Hockey News.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Alex Svitov's two goals lead Omsk over Magnitogorsk

Yesterday, in front of his hometown crowd, Avangard Omsk's Alex Svitov scored his first two goals of the season and added an assist in a 6-0 rout of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, the 2006-07 Russian Super League champion. A former NHL first round draft pick (2001), Svitov, an Omsk native, is the team's captain (as he was last year). In 2007-08, Svitov scored 10 goals while racking up 140 penalty minutes, which was among league leaders. Svitov, well-known for his physical and agitating play, is in the second year of a three-year contract with Omsk.

September 10, 2008, 10:11 am

European Roundup: Jagr vs. the Euro Champions

By Jeff Z. Klein

Only one game in the “Top 7″ European leagues, and it’s a momentous one: Avangard-Magnitka — a showdown in Omsk between Jaromir Jagr, Pavel Rosa, Alexei Cherepanov and co. for the home side, and the reigning European champions as the visitors.

Avangard 6-0 Metallurg Mg. Euh, well … seems Magnitogorsk were a little off today. The Hawks got two goals from Aleksandr Svitov and one from Jagr himself — his first of the season.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Alexei Morozov off to a great start as Ak Bars Kazan remains unbeaten

Ak Bars Kazan forward Alexei Morozov has gotten off to a sizzling start in the KHL. Through only 3 games, Morozov already has 5 goals and 2 assists. On top of that, Kazan has won it's first 3 games. The former Pittsburgh Penguin has led Kazan in goals and points in 4 consecutive seasons, twice topping the 30-goal mark. On Thursday, Morozov and Kazan face Dynamo Moscow on home ice in an attempt to remain unbeaten. Dynamo was shutout 1-0 by Amur on Friday.

September 7, 2008, 7:31 pm

European Roundup: Who Can Stop Morozov and Ak Bars?

BY Jeff Z. Klein

Ak Bars 3-2 Barys. The Kazakhs hang in bravely, but at 59:26 Alexei Morozov — who else? — scores the winner

Thursday, September 4, 2008

KHL kicks off inaugural season with Jagr-Morozov match up

Much has been made about the formation of Russia's new league, the KHL (Continental Hockey League) because of it's contentions with and it's desire to rival the NHL. While NHL training camps open in two weeks, the KHL's inaugural season began on Tuesday with five games, three of which went to overtime. Most notable, Alex Radulov set up former Anaheim Duck Oleg Tverdovsky for a goal in his debut with Ufa in a 4-1 win over Yaroslavl.

Wednesday's games were highlighted by the marquee matchup of Jaromir Jagr's Avangard Omsk vs. Alexei Morozov's Ak Bars Kazan. Morozov helped his team edge Omsk with two third period powerplay goals in a 4-2 win. Now with a great deal of former NHL players and unsigned draft choices in the KHL, this will certainly be a league that people will keep an eye on. We’ll see if the Continental Hockey League can live up to the hype it has generated.