Joni Ikonen, Ilves, Liiga, Finland
It was Ikonen’s toughest week since his return to the line up with three games, two of them back to back vs Lukko.
Ikonen was used sparingly in the first game, a little under 13 minutes, and was one reason that Lukko scored the opening goal. At the end of a long offensive shift for Ilves, Lukko attacked on the counter. Ikonen hustled back but was drawn behind the goal line and didn’t get the puck away. Somehow the puck anded up in the net and it is a clearly frustrated Ikonen that you can see in the video below:
In the second game of the week, Ikonen was on the ice for another goal against, albeit an empty net goal and while Ikonen won the draw his team never really gained control of the puck and the Lukko player could get the empty net goal.
Ikonen’s stand out play of the week came on the power play when he won the draw and finished off the play with a great pass to a teammate who was all alone for a power play goal.
It is encouraging to see Ikonen get more time on the ice, get time on special teams and also to show up in the scoresheet. However, with more time comes more expectations and one would hope to see Ikonen’s production go up with his added time.
Ikonen does look stronger and more secure with every game. His execution in the defensive zone is still a work in progress and it might just be that he is rusty and that his offence comes more naturally - but this is the part of his game where he has to shore up at the moment.
It is another three-game week for Ilves who plays TPS on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Kärpät on Friday.
Mattias Norlinder, Frölunda, SHL, Sweden
Norlinder was on the ice for a few goals against this week when Frölunda faced two other top teams, Örebro and Leksand. The game against Leksand was particularly entertaining and had the real feel of a playoff game. Both times that Norlinder was on the ice for goals he had his player completely covered, and it was other players who lost their coverage.
In comparison to Ikonen, it is Norlinder’s offensive game that seems to be lacking at the moment, and Norlinder lacks a bit of confidence in that department right now. The National Team break comes at a good time for Norlinder who will spend the week practicing hard with Frölunda and hopefully get back into the offensive gear that he showcased in the preseason and the early games in the SHL.
Jacob Olofsson, Timrå IK, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden
In two tough battles against a real contender, on top of it being a local derby, Olofsson had a chance to shine and showcase that he does step up in the big games. The result is that Olofsson is starting to straighten out the question mark more towards an exclamation mark. The games against Björklöven were ferocious affairs and while Timrå lost both games, Olofsson came away with two assists.
I still think he should force Timrå coach Frederik Andersson to play him more, but it all comes down to the dominating first line that Timrå can count on. Timrå’s first line with Dahlén-Lundin-Hartmann has combined for 125 points in 37 games, and gets all the starts on the power play which makes it tough for Olofsson to crack.
Olofsson scored his seventh goal of the season with a nice shot in the opening game of the week away to Väsby.
Alexander Gordin, SKA 1946, MHL, Russia
Another week and another goal from Gordin, who has a shooting percentage of 17.9%. Clearly he is stuck in a catch-22. He is too good for the MHL, but not good enough for the VHL. It would be easier to judge him in the VHL but SKA continues to play him in the lower league.