The KHL playoffs resume on Thursday with the first game of the semifinal round, which features a match-up between AK Bars Kazan and Dynamo Moscow. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and Metallurg Magnitogorsk line up in the second semifinal starting Friday. With the stakes getting higher, the series get longer, expanding to a best of seven format rather than the five game format used in the first two rounds.
#2 AK Bars Kazan vs. #7 Dynamo Moscow
Despite the lower seeding, Dynamo Moscow has to be the favorite in this one, having cruised through the first two rounds without suffering a single loss and laying an embarrassing defeat at the feet of Moscow rival CSKA. AK Bars, on the other hand, needed a last-minute icing, offensive-zone face-off win, and broken stick in order to force the deciding game of their quarterfinal series to overtime with only 15 seconds left for the eventual win. Dynamo boast an NHL-calibre defense featuring Danny Markov, Alexei Zhitnik and former Ranger Karel Rachunek, who leads the blueline with 7 points (4-2) in 6 games. Up front Swede Mattias Weinhandl leads the way with 10 points (4-6). They’re backstopped by Vitaly Eremeev, who leads all netminders in the playoffs with a 1.03 goals-against average and .954 save percentage. Frederik Norrena will be in goal for Kazan, which is led on defense by Ilya Nikulin with 5 points in 4 games (1-4). Up front, Tony Mortensson leads all KHL playoff skaters with 11 points in 8 games (4-7), thanks in large part to AK Bars’ 11-1 game four thrashing of Avangard Omsk in the quarterfinals. Bars also boast Alexei Morozov, who finished third in regular season scoring and has 8 points (4-4) in 8 games thus far in the playoffs.
|Thu 03/19/09||12:00 PM||AK Bars Kazan||Dynamo Moscow||watch|
|Fri 03/20/09||12:00 PM||AK Bars Kazan||Dynamo Moscow||watch|
|Sun 03/22/09||10:00 AM||Dynamo Moscow||AK Bars Kazan||watch|
|Mon 03/23/09||10:30 AM||Dynamo Moscow||AK Bars Kazan||watch|
|Wed 03/25/09||TBD||AK Bars Kazan||Dynamo Moscow||watch|
|Wed 03/27/09||TBD||Dynamo Moscow||AK Bars Kazan||watch|
|Wed 03/29/09||TBD||AK Bars Kazan||Dynamo Moscow||*|
#3 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl vs. #6 Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Alexei Yashin’s team will be without second leading regular season scorer Zbynik Irgl who was injured during Lokomotiv’s second round series against Ivan Baranka’s Spartak Moscow. Yashin, with 7 points (4-3) in 7 games is second on the squad in the playoffs to Alexei Mikhnov’s 8 points (6-2). On defense, Lokomotiv features former NHLer Vitaly Vishnevsky, who leads defenseman with 5 points (1-4) in seven games. Metallurg is lead by former Ranger draft pick Jan Marek, who finished second overall in league scoring in the regular season, and is currently third on the team with 7 points (3-4) in 7 games. Tomas Rolinek (4-4) and Igor Mirnov (1-7) currently lead the Czech by a point with 8 each. Vitaly Atyushov is tops on defense with 8 points (1-7) in 7 games and an average of 24:26 in playing time per game. 22-year old Ilya Proskuryakov minds the net for Metallurg with a 1.80 GAA and .934 save percentage while Georgi Gelashvili guards the gates for Yaroslavl, with a 1.82 GAA and .933 save percentage.
|Fri 03/20/09||12:00 PM||Lokomotiv Yaroslavl||Metallurg Magnitogorsk||watch|
|Sat 03/21/09||10:00 AM||Lokomotiv Yaroslavl||Metallurg Magnitogorsk||watch|
|Mon 03/23/09||10:00 AM||Metallurg Magnitogorsk||Lokomotiv Yaroslavl||watch|
|Tue 03/24/09||10:00 AM||Metallurg Magnitogorsk||Lokomotiv Yaroslavl||watch|
|Tue 03/26/09||TBD||Lokomotiv Yaroslavl||Metallurg Magnitogorsk||watch|
|Tue 03/28/09||TBD||Metallurg Magnitogorsk||Lokomotiv Yaroslavl||*|
|Tue 03/30/09||TBD||Lokomotiv Yaroslavl||Metallurg Magnitogorsk||*|
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