Petteri Nurmi, HPK, Liiga, Finland
The Finland focus for me this week was on Petteri Nurmi, who had a couple of really good games where he played solid two-way hockey for all six periods. An assist in the first game was followed up by a standout goal, and game-winner, for HPK in the second of the back-to-back games against Kärpät.
What struck me watching Nurmi was how calm he was on the ice. He rarely seemed flustered, rushed, or under pressure. He is solid defensively, even though I wish he would be a bit stronger, and a better skater. He is by no means bad, but more often than not I think Finnish players skate well. At least his read of the game makes up for the average skating ability.
Petteri Nurmi with the opening goal for HPK! Sneaking up on the far side and a clinical finish.— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) October 22, 2022
The #Habs seventh round pick from the 2022 NHL draft has two points (1+1) in five games since his return from injury. #GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/0R1E4Y89yU
It is easy to understand why the Canadiens took a flyer on the defenceman as his trajectory keeps going upward. He has played five games and has barely put a skate wrong in them. I don’t think he will be going directly into an NHL team, but he has all the tools to get there if you give him time to develop slowly. I also don’t see him being that highlight-reel kind of player, but rather someone you hear about when he has made a mistake, which isn’t that often.
Adam Engström, Rögle, SHL, Sweden
After the game against Frölunda, Engström had this to say to the TV audience: “I try to play as easy a game as possible. I try to focus on the defensive game. It is great to hear that others think you play well, it helps with the confidence and I get the confidence to do more things on the ice.”
I saw strong play from him in both games this week. His playmaking is starting to become more comfortable, his confidence is growing, but he still struggles physically in certain situations and especially in front of the net.
Both goals against this week found Engström trying to force plays with his stick, rather than working physically to get the more senior, tougher players away with brute force. It is something that can be expected for a first-time Junior in the SHL. The good thing is that he keeps getting shifts, and is averaging more than 10 minutes a game in the SHL at the moment.
Here is the goal against with Enström not being able to move the puck, or the attacker away. (Engström is number 56, by the far post). pic.twitter.com/LXJ5A27lsG— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) October 23, 2022
In the replay above, Engström tried to keep the Timrå forward on the outside, and didn’t really have the pace nor the physicality to push the play further outside, or into the boards. The bigger ice obviously helped the forward here as well.
In Saturday's game Engström went for a walkabout as he followed the Timrå forward around the zone, but couldn't really force a turnover, a poke at the puck or push the forward into the boards. pic.twitter.com/pjhJx48LM5— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) October 23, 2022
These are both situations that you’d expect would happen from a first-year player in the SHL, and I am not worried about Engström in this case. He is playing with the SHL team, he is making them play him because he is playing well. It is just a development situation.
Frederik Dichow, Frölunda, SHL, Sweden
Dichow finally got his start for Frölunda in Saturday’s game at Linköping. The unfortunate thing for Dichow was that his teammates were mentally still in the dressing room when the game started.
On the first goal there was a huge screen in front of him, and I am not even sure he saw the puck until he turned around. On the second goal, Frölunda lost count of the attackers and lost the last player who just walked in and tipped the puck into an almost empty net (it was a great pass though, and something that has been the Achilles’ heel for Frölunda of late).
Second goal; counting error from the defence. Great pass cutting through the zone and forcing a lateral move for the goalie. pic.twitter.com/KtB3O7kRJu— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) October 22, 2022
The third goal came on a breakaway chance when Linköping had a man in the box. While Dichow made the initial two (!) saves, he panicked and scrambled but couldn’t get the puck under control.
Breakaway while Frölunda is on the power play, two good saves. It can be argued that Dichow should control the rebound better, but a really tough situation either way.— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) October 22, 2022
Focus should be on the reactions and saves, defence should get the puck away. pic.twitter.com/N2x3Kx1DDJ
At that moment Frölunda was down 2-1, and one could sense that the game might get out of hand. However, he turned things around and kept his team in the game, and they came back and won the game in overtime.
It is clear that Frölunda has tried to play first goalie Lars Johansson into shape and it has caused Dichow to sit for a longer period than expected before this game. One can only hope that Dichow won’t have to wait as long for his next start.
Oliver Kapanen, KalPa, Liiga, Finland
Kapanen is logging heavy minutes, and taking the third-most faceoffs on the team while keeping a winning percentage of 47.9%. It is part of the education for the young centre.
He did lose some spots on the best Junior scorer in Liiga this week as Jani Nyman pulled away with two points, a goal and an assist.
Miguël Tourigny, Dukla Trencin, Tipos Extraliga, Slovakia
Tourigny got his first professional point in the game against Prešov, a primary assist on the opening goal of the game; a power play goal. As Matej Deraj pointed out on the last episode of The Dispatch, this is something we will be getting used to. Unfortunately, we also have to get used to bad coverage from the Tipos-Extraliga.
The Slovak hockey federation’s page with statistics isn’t the best when it comes to TOI. As an example, Tourigny had an assist in zero minutes of the ice. Therefore TOI will not feature in this week’s stats.
Dmitri Kostenko, Kunlun Red Star, KHL, China
It was a good week for Kostenko as he got to play four games, scoring a goal in the last match, against Nizhny Novgorod. His ice time has gone up, and it’s good to see him play again. Still it’s with one of KHL’s worst teams.
Dmitri Kostenko #Habs 2021 3rd round pick gets his second KHL goal of the season with some nice moves to settle the puck and get the defender and goalie to bite the wrong way. pic.twitter.com/FAAnrrxlms— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) October 23, 2022
Alexander Gordin, Rostov, VHL, Russia
Two games for Gordin in the VHL, the second tier in Russia. He had no points.
Emil Heineman, Leksands IF, SHL, Sweden
Heineman got injured in one of the last games of the NHL pre-season. The thumb injury still holds him out of action, and a return to Sweden.