Alexander Gordin, SKA-1946, MHL, Russia
The MHL playoffs have started and Gordin started them off with a bang, scoring a goal and setting up another.
He started off with a good chance, twisting and turning to create his own space, even if the goalie probably did the most on this save:
In the second period, Gordin handled the two-on-one rush perfectly. He drew the defender in close in order to be able to get his stick around the defender and set up his teammate for a rush towards the goal. It was a great assist from Gordin.
He finished off the game with a goal as the defence made a counting error and left him alone with the goalie.
It was an easy game for SKA-1946, and tougher games will follow, but it was a good showing from Gordin in a game where he saw limited usage. SKA-1946 will face Loko in the second round, in what will be a true test for the team that has suffered some tough injuries in the last games of the regular season.
Mattias Norlinder, Frölunda, SHL, Sweden
Frölunda, Norlinder’s Swedish club, only played one game this week and managed to earn a hard-fought win against Oskarshamn who needs every point they can get to not be dragged into the relegation series.
Norlinder was on the ice for the lone goal from Oskarshamn that came after a neutral zone turnover where Norlinder’s attacker came with speed and Norlinder had to track back as he had been going the opposite way. The defender did well to keep up with his opponent and keep him on the outside. Unfortunately for Norlinder his defensive partner, Jonathan Sigalet, lost his battle and his attacker scored via a re-direct.
The faster Norlinder has been paired with an offence-minded defender who is on his last legs in the top competitions in hockey and, personally, I think it has hampered Norlinder’s performance these last weeks. Norlinder was much more comfortable with Jens Olsson earlier in the season but Frölunda has had to move players around due to injuries and players leaving for the NHL midseason.
Frölunda won't play a game until the last two games of the regular season, March 29 and 31, a back-to-back meeting with Växjö. The regular season is on hold for some teams as the teams that have had to postpone games due to Covid related reasons are playing catch up. The final game day will have all teams playing as no team should be able to know the outcome in regards to the relegation and playoff situations before hand.
Knowing Frölunda quite well, I would say there are some tough practices coming up in order to strengthen the team both tactically and physically for the playoffs.
Joni Ikonen, Ilves, Liiga, Finland
Ilves is four points ahead of the Pelicans for the last direct spot into the quarter-finals. Ikonen’s contribution hasn’t been what Montreal fans, and even myself, had hoped for. The centre with an injury history that is comparable to the Black Knight in the Holy Grail, has gotten three points in 20 games and has seen his time on ice declined throughout the season, playing just nine-and-a-half minutes in the last game of the week against Lukko.
As with Jacob Olofsson, the evaluation will really come down to the playoffs where everything is on the line and it will be easier to see where the Ilves coaching staff thinks that Ikonen will benefit the team the most.
Jacob Olofsson, Timrå, HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden
Timrå will face AIK in their first challenge to reach the SHL, with the series starting more or less as you read this. It will be important for Jacob to show himself in these playoffs and I will follow him closely.