Awaiting the table-topper

24 November 2021

The weekend brings two home games, including a test against the league leader on Sunday evening. Before that, we take on Spartak, seeking revenge for a 2-4 loss in Moscow on October.

Spartak (Nov. 25)

Last time out: Our trip to Moscow in October ended in a 2-4 loss, with Brandon Yip and Tyler Wong getting our goals.

Familiar faces: There are no current ex-players on either side, although former Red Star man Gleb Shashkov was with Spartak until the end of October.

Background: Spartak is in the thick of a battle to get into the top eight in the west. Under the guidance of head coach Boris Mironov, the Red-and-Whites have tended to be inconsistent. Apart from one five-game winning streak, which coincided with our previous match-up this season, Spartak has struggled to string together a run of results. That was typified in its last two games – a 4-2 win in Helsinki followed by a 1-6 drubbing at home to Jokerit two days later.

As far as individuals are concerned, Jori Lehtera remains a constant threat. He’s picked up 4 (2+2) points in the last five games, taking him to 25 for the season to put him on top of the club’s scoring rate. Team captain Sergei Shirokov was on the scoresheet in that loss against Jokerit, ending a seven-game dry spell.


Metallurg (Nov. 28)

Last season: Our previous home game against Magnitka was a memorable 6-4 victory. Sam Lofquist potted the game winner and David Bondra got his only goal of the season to wrap it up.

Familiar faces: Our defenseman Nikita Khlystov was with Metallurg last season, and indeed picked up an assist in that 4-6 game. He completed his campaign with five assists in 25 regular season games. Denis Osipov also spent part of the 2015/16 season in Magnitogorsk, playing 39 games for the Steelmen. However, former Dragons goalie Artyom Zagidulin has left Magnitogorsk after his contract was cancelled last week.

Background: League leading Metallurg suffered something of a wobble, losing three successive games at the start of November. Since then, things have stabilized somewhat, with two wins in three as Ilya Vorobyov’s team keeps just in front of Traktor at the Eastern Conference summit.

Young forward Artyom Minulin is showing signs of coming of age: the 23-year-old has 5 (2+3) points in the last five games. That’s already his best career return since making his debut back in 2019. Meanwhile, Philippe Maillet is leading the team in scoring in his first KHL campaign. The Canadian forward has 28 (10+18) points to date, although after a blistering start to the season he has slowed to just two points in his last 10 appearances. With 109 goals to date, Metallurg is the most potent offensive force this season – something to concern our defense, which is the leakiest in the KHL.

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