New York Rangers 2009 seventh round draft pick Mikhail Pashnin played his second game at the 2009 Red Bulls Salute invitational tournament on Saturday, and came away with player of the game honors for CSKA Moscow in a 4-2 loss.
After seeing somewhat limited playing time in CSKA’s 4-2 victory over the ZSC Lions on Friday, the 20-year rookie defenseman saw his ice time increase on Saturday, in part because Phoenix Coyotes prospect and fellow defenseman Maxim Goncharov was ejected from the game early in the first period for dropping the gloves with host team Red Bulls Salzburg’s Mike Siklenka.
Pashnin earned that ice time by playing a physical game that belied his 5-foot 10½, 188-pound frame and showing great poise with the puck in his own zone — not necessarily a characteristic you’d expect of a rookie who’s just four games into his first exhibition season in Russia’s top league. He was particularly noticeable on the penalty kill, where he performed admirably on a couple of 5-on-3 opportunities against. While the Chelyabinsk native showed little in the way off offensive upside, his poise, skating and strong first pass make him a player with far more potential than his seventh round draft pick status would suggest.
That’s not to say he played a perfect game; the young blueliner finished a -1, the result of Salzburg forward Steven Reiger’s ability to swat the puck towards the goal as Pashnin was muscling him out of the crease at 14:43 of the first period. The puck deflected off the back of Moscow goaltender Nolan Schaefer (24 saves) and trickled over the goal line to give the Red Bulls a 3-0 lead. (Aside: Schaefer was faced at the opposite end of the ice by former Ranger property and Wolf Pack netminder David LeNeveu (27 saves), who joined the organization at the tail end of the 2007-2008 season after being aquired in the trade that sent Al Montoya to the desert.
CSKA were able to fight back to within a goal with eight minutes to play in the third, but a pair of back-to-back penalties put the club down two men for the third time in the game. When the inevitable happened and Salzburg took a 4-2 lead, head coach Sergei Nemchinov made his feelings known to the referee, earning himself an early ticket to the locker room. More craziness followed: with 13 seconds left to play New Jersey Devils 2000 second round draft pick Alexander Suglobov squared off with Ontario native Kelsey Wilson. With the linesmen between the players, Suglobov, on his back on the ice, lifted his leg and kicked at Wilson as the Salzburg forward was getting up, connecting with his shoulder and missing his face by inches. Suglobov, as you’d expect, followed his coach to the dressing room, having earned a match penalty for kicking.
As a result of the loss, CSKA will face the Espoo Blues in a battle for third place on Sunday. That gives Rangers fans one more chance to catch Pashnin in action, at 10am (EDT) (live feed). Host team Salzburg will face Sparta Prague in the final for the tournament title later in the afternoon, at 1:30pm (EDT). For more information, see the 2009 Red Bull Salute web site.
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