After the loss to CSKA on December 28 (1:3), SKA head coach Roman Rotenberg called the matches between the army team in the regular season Super Series. Behind four meetings of the main rivals of the Western Conference of the six planned. So far, in the confrontation between the two-time Gagarin Cup champions, equality is 2-2.
CSKA was successful in dress rehearsals before today’s meeting. Muscovites in the home game with the prickly “Severstal” not only won 4:2, but also showed almost all the best forces. With the exception of goalkeepers Adam Reideborn and Alexander Sharychenkov, as well as defender Artem Sergeev. After a long recovery, forward Vitaly Abramov and defender Darren Dietz returned to the ice.
Photo source: HC CSKA
The team of the Neva army, on the contrary, defeated the Amur 3:1 with an experimental squad. Without the two main goalkeepers – the main defenders Alexander Nikishin and Andrei Pedan, the forwards Damir Zhafyarov, Nikolai Prokhorkin, Alexander Volkov, Valentin Zykov. Zhafyarov in the previous match with Dynamo Moscow (1: 0) was injured in a tough clash with the blue and white captain Andrey Mironov and questioned his participation in today’s match.
In the match with Amur, Roman Rotenberg gave a chance to those who had not appeared in the base for a long time for various reasons. Forwards Maxim Groshev and Svyatoslav Grebenshchikov responded to the coach’s confidence with goals against the Far East. Let’s remember that the first of them was considered essential last autumn in the minority special teams and scored the winning goal against CSKA in the first game of the Super Series-22/23 in Moscow, behind an empty goal (2:3 extra time ).
Photo source: HC SKA
The second meeting of the army, held in St. Petersburg, ended with the defeat of the champions 6:2. The hosts have already scored four unanswered goals in the first period, largely due to Reideborn’s mistakes. The guests came to their senses, losing 0:5, two retaliatory goals, but the goalkeeper Dmitry Nikolaev did not allow them to do more, who has not lost to CSKA so far. Only force majeure can prevent you from going out on the ice today.
But the strongest young center forward in the league, Marat Khusnutdinov, risks missing an important game: in the second half of the meeting with Amur, he suddenly left the field and did not appear again.
So maybe Nikolai Prokhorkin, who missed nine months and recently made his debut this season, will have to play for him and that guy (Khusnutdinov). Against Dynamo, Prokhorkin was assigned to the first link of Dmitry Yashkin and Nikita Gusev. It was this “line” that gave the leaders a minimal 1-0 victory, after which Rotenberg praised his defense. But he would have received holes if it were not for Nikolaev on the last frontier.
But who will oppose him at the opposite gate? If we start with the game schedule of the CSKA goalkeepers, then we should expect Sharychenkov to come out, who stopped SKA in the third match of the Army Super Series in St. Petersburg (1:2). The Muscovites’ general goalkeeper throughout the first period almost single-handedly repelled the hosts’ fierce attacks and never allowed his possessions to be injured.
Photo source: HC CSKA
And on December 28, Reideborn played reliably against SKA, appearing after a long hiatus. Before the second break, the guests led 1-0, but in the third half they conceded three goals. Frustrated by the loss, Rotenberg criticized his players for extra passes instead of shots and vowed after the New Year to reach a level that would allow the SKA to step up and go on a nine-game winning streak and 17 straight games to score points. .
On Sunday, his team became the first in the KHL to secure a playoff berth. Who would doubt that! As there was almost no doubt about the victory of SKA in the regular phase. Perhaps, for some, the Viktor Tikhonov Continental Cup, awarded to the best team in a “soft” tournament, is not an end in itself. But not for Rotenberg: after all, this trophy will be the first in his coaching career, which began just a year ago.
The opponents approached today’s match on the rise: SKA won four victories in a row, CSKA won seven of the last eight matches.
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