Saturday, 29 August 2015

Not The Best Start

The KHL season is six days old as of today, and there's definitely one player who wishes that things may have gone a little different in the early part of this season. Ilya Kovalchuk, SKA St. Petersburg's primary sniper, has been firing the puck as he always had done in the NHL, but things haven't been as smooth as we're used to seeing on this side of the pond. Arguably the biggest star in the KHL, Kovalchuk's early season woes only got worse on Saturday night.

In the opening game of the season, Kovalchuk had a quality chance while on the power-play only to be robbed by CSKA's Stanislav Galimov when it appeared a goal was certain. Kudos for Galimov for the stretch on this save, but you know that Kovalchuk wanted that one back. And in the back of the net.

Kovalchuk has a goal and an assist thus far on the season, but we may not see the sniper for some time after an early first-period collision in SKA's game against Torpedo today. It looked harmless, but reports after the game have Kovalchuk injured. How bad? No further reports have been made, but you be the judge based on the following video.
If you ask me, it appears that Kovalchuk was aiming for a shoulder-to-shoulder hit that Torpedo's Vladimir Galuzin stood up on upon release of his shot, and the two went knee-on-knee as Galuzin avoided most of Kovalchuk's impact. The key here is that Galuzin's knee was in a far more vulnerable spot by taking the impact on the side of the knee while Kovalchuk sent the front of his knee, protected by the knee pad, through the check. In what has to be a weird turn of events, Galuzin was fine after the hit while Kovalchuk struggled on his skates.

Kovalchuk lasted just two shifts into today's game before leaving with that apparent knee injury. SKA dropped the match to Torpedo by a 3-1 score to fall to 1-0-1-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) on the season with four points. Granted, it's still very early, but losing Kovalchuk for a long period may put SKA in a little trouble as they have their best player on the sidelines recovering from this knee injury. Jokerit is the only undefeated team in the KHL, and they play in SKA's Western Conference.

If St. Petersburg hopes to be back in the Gagarin Cup Championship, they'll need Kovalchuk in the lineup.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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