Gunning for a second sensation

30 September 2022

Kunlun Red Star’s next home stand begins with another visit from CSKA – and after defeating the defending champion last time, it’s time to prove that it was no freak result. The four-game series finishes with a chance to avenge Wednesday’s 1-3 loss at Traktor. In between, Dynamo and Severstal visit on Oct. 3 and 4.

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CSKA Moscow (Oct. 1, 1800 Moscow Time)

Last time out: Surely you remember this one. Ryan Sproul’s first of the season? Zac Leslie’s overtime goal? Jeremy Smith’s 44 saves? A famous win over the defending champion? Here’s hoping for more of the same as we meet CSKA again 10 days later.

Familiar faces: None

Background: All is not well with CSKA at the moment. Since that defeat on its last trip to Mytishchi, Sergei Fedorov’s team has lost two of its next three games. In between losses to Dinamo Minsk and Sibir, there was an overtime success against Spartak to lift the mood. However, this is some way short of the high standards the defending champion sets itself. Indeed, there is a sense among CSKA’s supporters that in the first month of the season, the Red-and-Blues have faltered due to a lack of teamwork. Individual talent alone ensures that CSKA will always be a tough opponent but for now many are waiting to see how that can be harnessed into a consistent performance level.

Dynamo Moscow (Oct. 3, 1900 Moscow Time)

Last season: Our two games against Dynamo both ended in defeat, 3-5 at home and 1-4 on the road.

Familiar faces: None

Background: This season’s Dynamo roster is a very different beast. Gone are the star names like Vadim Shipachyov and Slava Voynov. In their place, the Blue-and-Whites have opted for younger, up-and-coming players. For head coach Alexei Kudashov, it’s a return to the kind of team he looked after at Atlant and Lokomotiv and, so far, that trip down memory lane is going well. The new-look Dynamo is second in the Western Conference and, so far, is the only team to beat SKA (albeit at the third attempt). We’ve seen some notable individual performances recently too: in week five of the season, Maxim Sushko scored a hat-trick against Avangard, then Eric O’Dell went one better with four goals in a 5-0 thrashing of Amur.

Severstal Cherepovets (Oct. 4, 1930 Moscow Time)

Last season: Our two games against Severstal both ended in defeat. Last October brought a narrow loss on the road, then in January we suffered reverse on home ice.

Familiar faces: Defenseman Nikita Khlystov had two spells as a Dragon. He first suited up for us in 2017, recording 32 appearances that season. More recently, he began last season with us before moving to Cherepovets after 18 games.

Background: Severstal’s head coach Andrei Razin continues to do a good job on a tight budget. Unable to compete for star signings, and often forced to part company with his leading players when bigger clubs come knocking, Razin consistently gets the Steelmen into the playoff picture. His great talent is to unlock the potential of underachieving players. Take current leading scorer Kirill Pilipenko. The 26-year-old made his debut for Dynamo back in 2015 and caught the eye with two goals in his first four KHL games. After that, though, his progress stalled. Unable to find a role in Moscow, he moved on to Avtomobilist, Admiral and Sochi. However, his numbers were unimpressive and he spent plenty of time in the minor leagues. Razin spotted the potential last season, brought him to Severstal and was rewarded with 13 goals in 25 games. This term, he has 10 (1+9) points from 10 games. It just shows what the right coaching can do for a player.

Traktor Chelyabinsk (Oct. 7, 1900 Moscow Time)

Last time out: It’s barely a week since we went to Chelyabinsk, and our guys will be out to avenge that 1-3 loss on the road. Stopping Anton Burdasov, who had a hand in all three goals, will be top priority.

Familiar faces: None

Background: The loss at Traktor on Sep. 28 was one of our more frustrating road games. Hampered by early penalties, we fell 0-2 down before the midpoint of the first period. Then, though, came a response. Ryan Sproul made it a one-goal game early in the second, and the points were up for grabs until the very end. Unfortunately, a second goal from Burdasov in the final frame tipped the balance towards Traktor, but there was enough from the Dragons to suggest things could be different on home ice. That was the first of four home games for our visitor, and Anvar Gatiyatulin will be hoping his side can break its habit of alternating wins and losses and cement its current, fragile position in the top eight.

One response to “Gunning for a second sensation”

  1. Chris Ang says:

    Hope they win all… Lol…

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