Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia
One of the most common questions about Romanov has been his offensive output, especially considering the Tsar’s World Junior Championship performance. It took 35 games before Romanov scored his first professional goal. With the game tied at three, and his grandfather Zinetula Bilyaletdinov coaching the opposing team, it couldn’t have come at a better time. While playing 4-on-4, Romanov broke towards the net and went top shelf with his tip-in to score a magnificent goal.
The goal looked to be a game-winning goal, but Bars scored their fourth goal late in the game to draw within one. Even so, CSKA held on for a 5-4 win.
Romanov continues to play a sound defensive game. The opposition tries to rail him with borderline play and what I can only guess is chirps, but Romanov usually stays calm. His game is very mature for his age and the level that he is playing at. Right now he is earning even more trust form Coach Nikitin and it is especially evident as he starts to get time on the special teams. The confidence Romanov had going into the World Juniors from playing in the KHL was clear, but it is also clear that the confidence boost he got during that tournament has not only benefited Romanov himself but has also been translated into confidence and trust from coach Nikitin.
Jesse Ylönen, Pelicans, Liiga, Finland
The week started out well for Ylönen when facing Liiga leaders, Kärpät, at home. Ylönen used skill and smarts to set up the first goal of the game, using his added muscle to hold off the defender, his skating for separation, and his hockey IQ to bank the puck off the boards to keep it away from the back-checking forward.
#Habs Jesse Ylönen works hard and uses his great skating to separate himself from the defender in the corner to set up a shot (that leads to a goal) and his eight assist of the season. #GoHabsGo #BellLetsTalk pic.twitter.com/vtgZjo20jw— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) January 30, 2019
However, it was Kärpät, much thanks to a certain Rasmus Kupari, that stood as winners after the game. This week, Ylönen continued to showcase his work ethic and added confidence along the boards, but it did not yield any results in the game report. The winger is still playing on the third line and saw a drop in usage this week, almost four minutes compared to last week’s usage. He was drawing the attention of one of the defenders on Oliwer Kaski’s first goal of the game but Ylönen really didn’t affect the coverage on the goal.
Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland
Defensively, it was a tough week for Ikonen. While he wasn’t responsible for any of the goals, he was on the ice for all three goals against in the must-win game against Ässät — Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s old club. He even played defender on the last goal but took away the passing lane for the attacker and played his role correctly. KalPa would have been 11th in the table (on goal difference) and very close to the playoffs if they managed to beat last-place Ässät.
Ikonen featured on the power play and started the play that set up Alexandre Texier in the game against Sport. With four points (3+1) in seven games, and the mature game that the centre is providing, he really is showing that he has used the seven months away from hockey to prepare in the best way he can.
Jacob Olofsson, Timrå, SHL, Sweden
Highlights from a stalwart working Swede has been few and far between, but this week he was on the scoresheet, much thanks to two individual efforts by Filip Westerlund and Patrik Blomdahl. However, the Westerlund goal wouldn’t have happened if Olofsson didn’t win the face off as clean as he did.
Olofsson had a tough game in the must-win game against Örebro, a game that Timrå really needed to win to avoid the relegation series, but ended up losing 3-2. Olofsson’s defensive game wasn’t the reason for either of the two goals against that he was on the ice for. He held his cover both times but a struggling team rarely gets the bounces right. Olofsson got an assist on the consolation goal with four seconds left in the game when he passed Blomdahl on the defensive blue line before Blomdahl took the puck to the net and rammed it home. It’s not the best assist, but it’s an assist that hopefully builds a bit of confidence for the young Swede before the most important part of the season starts — the relegation series that Timrå looks set for.