Rangers Prospects Update in the KHL playoffs and more
Tarmo Reunanen is becoming a revelation in our overseas prospect group by continuing to do what he’s been doing all season. He added his 18th assist of the season, a day after turning 21.
However, his team did not have the best week, going 1-1-1 and they are now 1 point ahead of HPK for 6th, which would mean qualification for the quarter finals. With only 4 games left in the season Lukko has a good chance to stay ahead of HPK but if they fail to do so, they will still qualify for the preliminary round.
In the South-west of Finland, Pajuniemi and his team TPS did not start the week the way they had hoped, with a 3-6 loss to Lahti. Playing on the 3rd line with Bjorkstrand, Pajuniemi did not have any points in the 3 games he played this week, in which his team went 1-2-0, but that one win meant they reached 100 points for the season, the 2nd team to do so. Firmly in 2nd place with an 11 point lead on number 7 HPK, they have now qualified for the play off quarter finals.
In Russia, the playoffs for the Gagarin Cup have started. All 3 KHL-based prospects reached the play offs, but their experiences are not at all the same.
Igor Shestyorkin and SKA started their play off campaign taking on Spartak but unlike what many people had expected, SKA struggled early on and after losing both home games (0-2 in game 1, 2-3 in game 2), the seemingly impossible task to win 2 games on the road started for the team from St. Petersburg. They started game 3 with a strong first period, and near the end of the 2nd they were up 4-1, when Spartak had a breakaway with the teams playing 4 a side.
Kaspars Daugaviņš approached the net from the left side, when Shestyorkin tripped the Latvian, who went hard into the boards. He had to be helped off with a stretcher and later in the hospital he was diagnosed with a punctured lung. Shestyorkin was given a game misconduct and an automatic suspension for game 4. Magnus Hellberg replaced the Russian and finished the game. As of today, the team has not appealed the suspension and it seems like Hellberg will be in net for game 4, which will be played Monday morning 11:30 AM EST.
Yegor Rykov and Sochi had a difficult draw, being paired with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Losing the first game in overtime (4-3), they were outplayed and outscored in game 2, going down 3-0. The series moved to Sochi for game 3 and Yegor Rykov was one of his team’s best players. Trailing twice in the game, Rykov assisted on both equalizers, the 2nd one with just 6 minutes and 20 seconds to go in the game, sending the game to overtime, where Andrei Altybarmakyan added his 2nd goal of the game to give Sochi their first win of the series.
In game 4 of the series, Rykov again managed to get his name on the scoresheet, with a secondary assist on the empty net goal to seal the deal in the final 30 seconds of the game. The series, now tied 2-2, heads back to Yaroslavl. Game 5 is Tuesday morning 11:00 AM EST.
Our final prospect in Russia, is Vitali Kravtsov. His team has arguably the toughest match up of the three, against Avtomobilist from Yekaterinburg, 3 hours North of Chelyabinsk. Game 1 was an easy 3-0 win for the team of former Ranger Nigel Dawes, but game 2, Traktor put up a better fight. They lost the game 4-2, but left them hopeful they could take the momentum into the next game. Kravtsov had an assist on the powerplay goal scored by Anton Glinkin in the final 2 minutes
Traktor played game 3 at home, and took the lead early in the 2nd period, by a goal from former Ranger Christian Thomas. Kravtsov’s team was unable to hang on, and conceded a goal in the 3rd, which sent the game to overtime where Avtomobilist didn’t waste time and scored the game-winner just 54 seconds in. Traktor now trails the series 3-0 and is 1 game away from being eliminated from the play offs they should not even be in right now. They have the lowest goals-per-game average of any team making the KHL play offs ever (1.62). Game 4 will be played in Chelyabinsk, Monday morning 9 AM EST.
Dominik Lakatos played just 1 game this week with his team HC Bílí Tygři Liberec but was scratched for the 2nd game yesterday. His rights expire this summer and I highly doubt the Rangers offer him a contract.