In search of a home victory

11 November 2022

Fun fact time. You have to go back to Oct. 28 to find the last Red Star game that ended in a home victory. Since then, the Dragons lost four on home ice, with a win at Spartak in between. Our two most recent games in Mytishchi were, admittedly, hard work. Against Salavat Yulaev there were good things in the performance despite a 1-4 loss. However, against Avtomobilist we suffered another heavy defeat against an opponent that seems to relish playing against us.

On the bright side, that Oct. 28 home win came against Neftekhimik. And guess who is the opposition for our next encounter in Mytishchi? That’s right, Neftekhimik returns and a repeat of our previous match-up would do the job nicely.


Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Nov. 12, 1700 Moscow Time)

Last time out: It was only a couple of weeks ago that Neftekhimik last came to Mytishchi. That one turned into a 4-3 win for the Dragons as Alexei Murygin made his KRS debut against his former club.

Familiar faces: Apart from Murygin, that previous game saw ex-Dragon Hunter Shinkaruk get his first goal for Neftekhimik. Vyacheslav Leshchenko is another former Kunlun forward among the team’s leading scorers. Defenseman Mikhail Sidorov also had a spell at KRS but he didn’t make it off the bench in October.

Background: The only predictable thing about Neftekhimik this season is unpredictability. Just check out the Tatar team’s recent games. Wins over CSKA and Ak Bars, snapping the defending champion’s 11-game winning streak along the way, followed by a 0-3 loss in Cherepovets. With all due respect to Severstal, that’s quite a comedown given that the Steelmen had just one win in their previous nine games, and that against rock bottom Sochi in overtime.

Perhaps part of the problem is a lack of consistent scoring. Head coach Oleg Leontyev has frequently reshaped his line-up, not least in response to a long losing streak at the start of the season. As a result, establishing coherent attacking units has been a slow process. A steady turnover of players isn’t helping: so far this season, Neftekhimik has used 21 different forwards. Nine of them failed to score a goal between them, including hotly-tipped Slovak import Samuel Bucek.

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Nov. 14, 1900 Moscow Time)

Last time out: When we visited Nizhny Novgorod last month, a goal from Sergei Goncharuk 24 seconds from the end sent us to a 2-3 loss.

Familiar faces: Alexei Murygin also lists Torpedo among his previous clubs, playing there last season on his return to action after beating cancer. Forwards Igor Larionov Jr and Alexei Kruchinin both had brief spells with the Dragons in 2020/21.

Background: Torpedo comes into this game with American forward Kenny Agostino and rising star Vasily Atanasov both on the injured list. Fellow forward Kirill Urakov is also a doubt for the game in Mytishchi.

However, those absentees are not greatly slowing the Torpedo offense this season. With 78 goals in 28 games at the time of writing, Igor Larionov’s team is reaping the benefits of the Professor’s hockey philosophy. It’s no secret that Larionov favors the kind of pacy passing hockey that earned him such acclaim as a player. While there is no individual stand-out on the team, Torpedo’s scoring is keeping pace with almost every other team, save perhaps for SKA, untouchable in so many categories right now. The recent 6-4 win over Ak Bars illustrated the team’s style nicely. Each goal was scored by a different player, and there were 13 players among the points in total. However, there was also evidence of some unconvincing defensive play, something that always gives the opposition a chance.

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