Army derby is gaining momentum.
The final of the West moved to Moscow – and hockey in the third match looked much more cheerful than a couple of days ago. A rather fun game on a collision course from the first period suddenly turned into an all-out victory for CSKA with the final feeling that Peter simply did not have a chance.
Fedorov led the series 2-1. Let’s figure out how it happened.
CSKA scored in the majority
The teams have quite a lot of penalty for the evening: 18 minutes for two is too much, but, as often happens in the playoffs, some of the penalties were mutual. As a result, CSKA played in the majority three times, Peter – twice, but the second came in the last 30 seconds of the match, when everything was already clear. SKA spent its only full-fledged chance in general mediocre – there was a great moment with Vorobyov’s throw from a penny, but the puck fell right into Reideborn. And that’s it.
Muscovites no longer retired, but they treated their implementation as carefully as possible – two goals in three attempts. CSKA knows very well how to play on someone else’s penny: to act on the substitution (Kamenev’s goal), or simply to shield the goalkeeper so that he does not even see the moment of the throw (Sorkin’s goal). If there had been at least one more chance in the majority, they would have tried to start it with finishing moves. For a complete set.
Separately, it is worth noting Vladislav Kamenev, who showed in the first match of the series that he can perfectly choose the position at the gate. Now – an ideal reaction and playing with a club in the air.
In general, this is a very successful playoff performed by Kamenev: the center of the first link is already the best CSKA sniper in the Gagarin Cup-2023, but in general in the league it shares the first line in goals with Bushe and Radulov. All have 8.
A worthy continuation of an excellent regular season: there Vladislav knocked out 22+19 and became the second in the team in goals (together with Grigorenko). This is the most successful full season for a striker at the highest level, and it is already very interesting what Kamenev will show in the next championship. Although how else he will surprise SKA in this series is a much more urgent question.
Konstantin Okulov finally scored
In general, similar performance is expected from Kamenev’s partner in the troika – Konstantin Okulov. One of the most creative players of this CSKA has some kind of plug: until Thursday, there was only 1 cup goal – and that one in a match completely lost to Lokomotiv. It won’t be enough. The puck did not seem to go into the goal: 48 shots on target in three incomplete series – no one in the team threw so often! Of course, Konstantin compensated for this with assists, but still the top scorer of the army in the regular season is expected to succeed in all respects.
In the third match against SKA, Okulov finally scored. Yes, only one goal, but very important – it set the further vector for the match and, moreover, eventually became victorious.
Okulov now has 2+8 in the current Gagarin Cup. It seems like good numbers, but on the other hand, five matches in a row before that – decisive with Lokomotiv and the first with SKA – he did not score points at all. Yes, and in the past playoffs was much more productive.
But if you perceive him as a reserve in the game of the Muscovites, due to which they can add at any moment, then Peter has problems.
By the way, after the match, Roman Rotenberg singled out the only positive moment: in the 5-on-5 format, SKA did not lose this match. Indeed, Okulov scored a goal in a 4-on-4 game: Plotnikov, who went out on the ice after an injury, today collected bundles of fines – mutual and not, but that removal for simulation (Sergey was tripped – and he fell with pleasure) according to the result, he can put himself in assets.
Rotenberg put Gusev on the bench – a man who was specially prepared for the playoffs
During the game, SKA was accompanied by noticeable problems in attack – the coaches tried to rectify the situation and took a completely desperate step: they put Nikita Gusev, one of the leaders, on the bench. It happened right after the second period – the whole third, in addition to Gusev, was also missed by Evgeny Ketov, and forwards Nikolai Polyakov and Nikita Komarov spent less than two minutes for two.
As a result, the second scorer of the army team in this playoff played only 11 minutes and 49 seconds in the evening, of which 1:13 was in the majority. It should be noted that Zhafyarov also played little – he appeared on the court in each period, but only 12 minutes came up.
What did Gusev show in the first two periods? Nothing. He has 0 shots on target, 0 tackles. We are not talking about power shots and block shots – this is, in principle, not his style.
In February, we wrote that there was a discord in relations between SKA and Gusev – then Nikita was sent to an individual training schedule, and he missed six regular season matches. The versions were different: allegedly because of the expectation of the birth of a child, he was not focused on the game, which caused dissatisfaction among the coaches, and Rotenberg explained this decision with good goals – getting in shape for the playoffs.
Judging by the first two rounds, he really approached the cup matches in good shape: he scored 12 (5 + 7) points – only Marat Khairullin had more. But in the series with CSKA, Nikita does not show himself in the best way.
In the first game there were 4 shots on target and an assist, but there the teams spent 100 minutes on the ice. In the second match – almost 16 minutes of time, no points and no shots on target. In the third – two periods and a margin. Will he even make it to the fourth game? If so, how will he react to the decision of the coach, who did not choose words and spoke without semitones.
“We had the best players,” Rothenberg explained. It’s been that way all season and always will be. Every player is treated equally. There are no players who can count on concessions from the coaching staff. You will see a completely different game next time.”
SKA is a goal-scoring machine, but it broke down today
Peter this season is unusually good in attack, and even after not the most successful segments in individual matches, the team has always found strength and reserves to add. In the regular season, the army team by a wide margin became the best in terms of performance and scored an average of 3.57 goals per game – a very decent figure.
In the first matches of the Western finals, SKA was the first to concede, but then they would definitely improve and come out ahead. Now it was not possible to repeat this trick – CSKA played more accurately and practically deprived the opponent of the chances of goals. And then the creative Gusev sat down on the bench – even if he was not noticeable in the last five periods.
For Petersburgers, this is only the second match of the season when they left the ice without goals. The first was still in the regular season – at the end of January against Lokomotiv; now having problems with goals in the playoffs. On the one hand, this is just one game, and SKA is still far from losing the series, but on the other hand, it is a wake-up call, and this set of different inputs can turn against Peter.
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