Promising performances: now let’s add positive results

27 October 2022

The results from Red Star’s last road trip made for painful reading: four games, four losses, zero points. However, the raw facts do not tell the whole story. There was plenty of encouragement from a battling performance at table-topping SKA, then there was genuine misfortune in the manner of our losses at Torpedo and Vityaz.

That said, hard luck stories don’t win hockey games. The Dragons have a quick turnaround into the next home stand. Our home form this season has been solid: six wins and three overtime losses mean Kunlun has taken at least a point from nine of its 12 games in Mytishchi so far.

Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Oct. 28, 1900 Moscow Time)

Last season: We shared two wins and two losses with Neftekhimik in 2021/22. Highlights included a 5-3 win in Tatarstan, while our most recent encounter saw Tyler Wong’s goal bring a 2-1 victory on home ice in December.

Familiar faces: There are a few ex-Dragons at Neftekhimik these days. Hunter Shinkaruk is the most recent to arrive: he made his debut on Wednesday, having earlier been a productive scorer for us in 2020 and 2021. Fellow forward Slava Leshchenko and defenseman Mikhail Sidorov also had spells with KRS.

Background: In the past, Neftekhimik has been a regular rival in the battle for a playoff spot. This season we’re in different conferences, so that direct battle doesn’t quite apply. Nonetheless, a game like this is something of a bellwether for our season. Historically, we have a 10-8 advantage in the 18 games between the teams and this term, despite being in different sections, both teams are pushing hard to break into the playoffs. Our visitor had a dreadful start to the season, but kept patience with head coach Oleg Leontyev. Instead, Neftekhimik radically reshaped the playing staff: high-profile import Daniel Bucek returned to Slovakia, veteran forward Denis Parshin left within a few weeks and goalie Emil Garipov arrived from Traktor. Results are improving as the new-look line-up settles down.


Avangard Omsk (Oct. 30, 1700 Moscow Time)

Last time out: Our first visit to Omsk’s new G-Drive Arena was a memorable success. A 4-0 win made the Dragons the first visiting team to take the points from Avangard’s new home. It also prompted the home team to replace Dmitry Ryabykin as head coach.

Familiar faces: None

Background: It’s fair to say the Hawks will be coming to us with something to prove. While our recent victory in Omsk came as a surprise to many, nobody could say it was not fully deserved as we made ourselves right at home in Avangard’s new nest.

It was also a game with lasting consequences. A change of coaching staff saw Mikhail Kravets appointed as interim head coach in place of club legend Ryabykin. Interestingly, Avangard’s management chose the opposite approach to Neftekhimik’s – and so far, it hasn’t made a huge impact. The Hawks are still struggling to take flight. Under Kravets, Avangard lost three of their next four, although a recent home stand brought some reasons for optimism including an impressive 6-0 thrashing of Barys.

Dinamo Minsk (Nov. 2, 1900 Moscow Time)

Last season: We had plenty of goals in our games against the Bison, but unfortunately not many points. Our trip to Belarus ended in a 5-6 shoot-out loss, then on home ice we went down 4-6 in a Christmas cracker last December.

Familiar faces: None

Background: Dinamo arrives at the end of a four-game road trip that also takes in games at CSKA, Vityaz and Lokomotiv. Craig Woodcroft’s team has struggled with travel sickness this season, winning just three times away from home prior to the current tour. Admittedly, one of those victories was a memorable success at Ak Bars early in the campaign. However, that success must be offset with a loss at rock-bottom Sochi in a year when most expect to collect a nice souvenir from the Black Sea resort.

Part of the problem could stem from consistent scoring. Dinamo has several players who seem to be playing a useful supporting role, but possibly lacks the kind of ‘point-a-game’ production that might cement a place in the top eight. Pavel Varfolomeyev’s return to the team could provide that: he’s on 14 points from 15 appearances at the time of writing. However, many in Minsk will be hoping to see the team’s imports step up the pace a little to lift a potentially powerful roster up the standings.

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