Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia
The young Russian defender continues to impress in the KHL. He is earning more and more time on the ice from Coach Nikitin with his mature and honest game. Romanov knows his limits and rarely puts his skate wrong in the defensive zone, and with the increased confidence comes some of the play that Trevor Timmins mentioned when asked about Romanov after the draft: the big hits.
The first hit seemed to have given Romanov confidence in his physical game, and the next time he stepped up from the blue line to deliver a hit that would have made Niklas Kronwall proud.
#TheTsar with another heavy hit in the dying seconds of the second period.— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) September 13, 2018
Two big big hits in the second period where Alexander Romanov played 3:13, and has 6:38 in total after two periods. #Habs #EPR for @HabsEOTP pic.twitter.com/NRD9TXz1cC
The big hits were the obvious highlight-reel shots from this week, but Romanov does so many things right when he plays. He is a bit overly defensive when he gets the chance in the offensive zone, covering the counter-attack and playing the holding defender. Still, Romanov does it well, and with increased confidence he should be able to get even more chances to shine in the offensive zone.
With the long road trip to the Far East of the KHL coming up, it will be interesting to see how Romanov handles huge time change (a seven-hour difference), and if that will affect his game and/or deployment.
Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland
Injured in the off-season, he is expected to return at the end of December or early January.
Jesse Ylönen, Pelicans, Liiga, Finland
It took a game and three-and-a-half minutes for Ylönen to open his Liiga account. Standing in front of the goal, he tipped the shot past the goalie in Lukko for the opening goal of the game.
Ylönen added another goal, the Pelicans’ fifth, in the second period when he waited out the goalkeeper during the power play to beat him clean. He showed great patience to wait for the netminder to make his move before letting loose with a hard, low shot.
Ylönen added a second in the 6-1 win over Lukko. He got the chance to wait out the goalkeeper on the power play, and showed really good patience to net the puck. #Habs #EPR for @HabsEOTP pic.twitter.com/HyGnV9lFkT— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) September 15, 2018
In the first game, away to Sport, Ikonen wasn’t as successful, but still it is interesting to see that over the two games, Ylönen got most of his shots from inside the home-plate area. In particular this is true for his eight-shot game against Lukko on Saturday.
It is too early to tell, but from a glance it seems that the Pelicans play with a higher level of confidence at home, but the early goal probably helped the team to play their game more comfortably.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Ässät, Liiga, Finland
After taking part in previous pre-season games in Finland, Kotkaniemi is in Montreal for the Canadiens’ pre-season.
Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, SHL, Sweden
It was a wake-up call for Olofsson to step onto the SHL ice. While he generally looked good out there, it was also evident that he needs to play the player and not the puck at other times. In order to be able to do this, he has to build up muscle as he was outmatched at times.
Olofsson was on one of the power-play units and played 1:44 with the man advantage. While he has been lauded for his defensive acumen by Coach Andersson, Olofsson wasn’t used in either of the penalty-kill formations.
Olofsson finished his SHL debut with three shots, a face off winning percentage of 73.3, was -2, and had 16:36 of ice time.
Let’s be honest: Timrå is going to be one of the two teams in the bottom of the SHL table. Olofsson will most likely play a lot, but will also (most likely) have a lot of negative plus/minus statistics. It is important to remember that when we look at Olofsson’s stats throughout the season.