Jesse Ylönen, Lahti Pelicans, Liiga, Finland
Nothing comes easy for the Finnish winger at the moment, and especially not for his team. The two games played this week were tough losses, a 2-1 loss in OT to SaiPa at home, and an 8-2 loss to Ilves. It was not good for the Pelicans, who, after a struggling and trying season, still have a chance to reach one of the wild-card spots and sneak into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth.
In a flash of brilliance, Jesse Ylönen got the opening goal for his team, and his move had me fooled thanks to the fake drop to his teammate.
There is so much to like from this goal. Ylönen’s fake drop gets two defenders to go with his teammate. The move also creates separation from the defender, and this gives Ylönen the chance to release his own shot. It’s a masterful move by the Canadiens prospect.
I got a comment from him after the game about the goal. “Actually, I was going to drop the puck to my teammate but I saw that there where players so close to him that I just decided to keep the puck. I haven’t practised it, it just happened.
“Of course it’s always fun to score, but after games like that I was just disappointed that we lost, but still a goal like that, it brings confidence.”
With time running out for the Pelicans, I wouldn’t be surprised if a playoff team tries to get Ylönen on loan for a better chance in the playoffs.
Frederik Dichow, Malmö U20, SuperElite / Malmö Redhawks SHL, Sweden
Alfred Hallin started the first game for Malmö U20 this week, but three shots and 7:42 into the game, Dichow came on in relief as the starting goalie had let two goals past him. The Gnome let two goals in himself, but gave his team the chance to win with that performance. The baby Redhawks took that chance, winning 5-4 in regulation.
In his second game of the weekend, Dichow was standing tall behind a terrible penalty kill, made worse by the team taking way too many penalties. All Färjestad’s goals came with a man advantage, except for the empty-net goal that clinched the game in Färjestad’s favour, and the Redhawks lost 5-3 in the end.
All throughout the season Malmö’s defence has been suspect, and it has left Dichow alone from time to time. He shows mental strength that he can come in early into a game and close down his end in order to give his team the chance to win. It is something that many scouts put down as a skill that is important for a goalie long-term.
Mattias Norlinder, Modo, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden
Modo took two important wins this week, beating AIK 5-2 in one of them, and that classic team from Stockholm looks certain to be relegated when the season ends.
For Norlinder and Modo it looks much better. The team is nine points clear of the team in third place and there might be an instant classic coming up on the Northeastern coast of Sweden in a few weeks, as the local rivalry between Björklöven (from Umeå) and Modo from (Örnsköldsvik) may see a seven-game series for the chance to play the worst team in the SHL and try to earn promotion to Sweden’s highest league. The two cities are about an hour away from each other and it could be a great experience for the young Montreal prospect to be playing in an environment with that much pressure.
Norlinder got an assist this week when he passed the puck two yards forward to his teammate. It was the defender’s ninth assist and 15th point of the season. Since Modo added Adam Tambellini to the roster, Norlinder has been less involved in the offence, but has played very secure in his own end. He’s learning the defensive trade rather than exploring his offence that is already there, something that should benefit his career in the long run.
Jacob Olofsson, Skellefteå AIK, SHL, Sweden
The centre returned to the ice this week, first away to Växjö and then a home game against Brynäs. Both games finished 2-1 and Skellefteå got the away win against Växjö. Olofsson played around 13 minutes in both games and looked solid in his return to the ice after a month away.
Arsen Khisamutdinov, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (KHL) / CSK VVS Samara (VHL), Russia
With the KHL All Star weekend in Moscow halting play in the KHL, Khisamutdinov only got one game this week, a shootout loss to Traktor. The Firestarter played 7:54 and had no shots. He took a penalty and was punished a bit for it, not that that improved Neftekhimik’s chances as the team imploded and gave up a 3-0 lead in 11 minutes and just managed to hold on during the overtime to take the game to the penalty-shot showcase.
Alexander Romanov, CSKA, KHL, Russia
The Tsar hasn’t played for CSKA since his return from the World Junior Championship. It is suspected that he suffered an elbow injury against Canada in the Gold Medal Game.
Joni Ikonen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland
I reached out to Ikonen earlier this week regarding his progress and potential comeback. “Rehab is going as planned and I’m not yet on the ice but probably in the near future,” he responded.
The thing to look at is if Ikonen can return in time for the playoffs, something that KalPa looks to be participating in, even if it is tight and Ikonen might not make it. If he does, he could be the joker that KalPa needs in the wild-card series.