Jesse Ylönen, Pelicans, Liiga, Finland
The only European prospect left standing at the start of the week was Jesse Ylönen. That lasted about four minutes into the second period in his first playoff game, when he took a hit along the boards.
At first it didn’t look bad, but Ylönen only played one more shift before being sat down to recover. He wasn’t dressed for the next game against HIFK, which means that the injury was more serious than expected based on the first glance from the game.
Until the injury, Ylönen had been playing on the Pelicans’ fourth line and had 6:09 of ice time and a shot before Coach Nieminen thought it was better to be safe than sorry with regard to his young forward’s injury.
The series between the Pelicans and HIFK is tied at one after both teams won their games at home. In the other series, the big favourite Kärpät leads 2-0 over Ilves, Tappara holds a 2-0 lead over Lukko, and, surprisingly, Kaapo Kakko’s TPS finds themselves 2-0 down to HPK. Kärpät is favoured to win the playoffs after winning the regular season title by 29 points.
Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia
CSKA won the series against Dynamo four games to one, and Romanov got to watch the whole series form the stands. CSKA will now face SKA Saint Petersburg in the Conference Semifinal in what will be a true showdown in the Western Conference between the teams finishing the regular season in first and second place.
In the other half of the bracket, Avangard will face Salavat in a battle of the underdogs. The top three teams from the regular season having been knocked out in the playoffs already.
Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, SHL, Sweden
Timrå will face Oskarshamn in the promotion/relegation series in their bid to stay up. Oskarshamn had a great regular season and continued that in the HockeyAllsvenskan finals against AIK, where they won the best-of-five series 3-2.
Timrå will be the favourite in the series, but there are a few aspects that have me worried for Olofsson and his team. The defence is a bit slow, and with Timrå being favourites they suddenly having to drive play. The lack of pace on the back end might hurt the team against a couter-attacking, fast Oskarshamn.
I am also not sure that Olofsson will be part of the series. Because of the long break for Timrå prior to puck drop — almost two weeks — Olofsson should have been back on the ice, but Coach Andersson is keeping his cards close to his chest and wont give anything away until the first faceoff on Wednesday.
The SHL playoffs are wide open after what has been the most closely fought regular season in recent history, and we will look into them next week.
Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland
KalPa’s season finished at the end of regular season when they failed to qualify for the playoffs.