As the race towards the playoffs in the NHL and the various minor leagues in North America come to a head, there are playoffs happening elsewhere on the planet that have a ton of intrigue happening. The Kontinental Hockey League's Gagarin Cup Playoffs have been on-going since last week, and we need to provide a quick update as to who is still in, who is out, and the fantastic upsets that have occurred thus far. Not all the favorites are playing in Round Two, and it goes to show that, like the NHL Playoffs, upsets do happen despite the success seen by some teams in the regular season.
The seedings for the Western Conference were as follows:
- #1 SKA Saint Petersburg vs. #8 Dinamo Riga
- #2 HC MVD vs. #7 HC CSKA Moscow
- #3 Dynamo Moscow vs. #6 HC Spartak Moscow
- #4 Atlant Mytishchi vs. #5 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
The seedings for the Eastern Conference were as follows:
- #1 Salavat Yulaev Ufa vs. #8 Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg
- #2 Metallurg Magnitogorsk vs. #7 Traktor Chelyabinsk
- #3 Ak Bars Kazan vs. #6 Barys Astana
- #4 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk vs. #5 Avangard Omsk Oblast
Dinamo Riga dispatched SKA St. Petersburg in four games, sending the top seed home. Riga won 2-0 and 3-1 before losing Game Three by a 4-2 score. However, Riga closed out the series on Sunday by winning Game Four by a 4-2 score.
HC MVD had no problems with CSKA as they swept the seventh-seed out. MVD won by scores of 3-1, 4-2, and 5-2 to wrap up their series in three straight games.
Sixth-seeded HC Spartak Moscow won the battle of Moscow by eliminating Dynamo Moscow in four games. Spartak won 4-3 in overtime in the first game before playing to a 1-0 victory in Game Two. Dynamo rallied for a 3-1 win in Game Three, but Spartak ended the series with authority with a 4-0 win in Game Four.
Fifth-seeded Lokomotiv Yaroslavl defeated Atlant Mytishchi in four games as well. Lokomotiv won the first game by a 2-1 score, but lost Game Two in overtime by a 4-3 score as Atlant pulled even. However, Lokomotiv earned a couple of victories as they posted a 4-3 score in Game Three and needed a 2-1 overtime victory in Game Four to wrap up the series win.
Salavat Yulaev Ufa needed four games, but they outlasted Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg. Game One went to Salavat by a 5-1 score, and Game Two was a 4-1 victory for Salavat as well. Game Three saw Avtomobilist rally for a 4-3 win, but Salavat closed out the series on Monday with an 8-1 thrashing of the eighth-seed.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk needed four games to eliminate Traktor Chelyabinsk. Metallurg took Game One with a 5-2 effort, and followed up that victory with a 3-1 win. A 2-1 overtime win by Traktor extended the series to a fourth game, but Mettalurg closed out the series with a 3-2 overtime win.
Ak Bars Kazan had no trouble with Barys Astana in their opening-round series. Kazan used scores of 4-3 in overtime, 4-2, and 3-1 to sweep Barys out of the playoffs.
Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk eliminated Avangard Omsk Oblast in three straight games as well. Neftekhimik won by scores of 2-0, 6-2, and 2-1 to sweep their opening-round series.
HC MVD earns a matchup with eighth-seeded Dinamo Riga. Victories by scores of 4-1 and 2-0 have MVD up 2-0 in their second-round series. This might be another sweep for team from Balashikha unless Riga can step up its game.
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and HC Spartak Moscow have locked horns in the second round, and each team has a victory in the first two games of Round Two. Lokomotiv drew first blood on Friday night with a 5-1 victory, but Spartak drew even today with a 3-2 overtime victory.
Salavat Yulaev Ufa draws fourth-seeded Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk in the second round. Game One went today, and Salavat laid a beating on Neftekhimik, winning 6-2 to take the early 1-0 lead in the series.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk and Ak Bars Kazan matchup in Round Two, and their opening game was today as well. Kazan showed that their third-seed ranking means nothing as they took Game One by a 4-0 score.
Don't look now, but Alexander Radulov of Salavat Yulaev Ufa is leading the KHL Playoffs with 12 points. He's four points better than teammate Patrick Thoreson. Radulov is leading the playoffs with nine assists as well. Four players have four goals thus far in the playoffs to lead the way: Kazan's Niko Kapanen, Kazan's Alexei Morozov, Neftekhimik's Maxim Pestushko, and Salavat's Patrick Thoreson. The top goaltender as it stands is HC MVD's Michael Garnett with a 1.20 GAA. Kazan's Petri Vehanen is second amongst goalies who are still in the playoffs. He has a 1.27 GAA.
There's your update on what's happening in the KHL! For more information, please check out the KHL website, or tune in here as I'll try to run another update next weekend!
Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!