GENERICO.ruSportThere will be a new champion in the KHL: results of the first round of the Gagarin Cup

There will be a new champion in the KHL: results of the first round of the Gagarin Cup

The first round of the Kontinental Hockey League playoffs has ended ( KHL). Last year's Gagarin Cup finalists CSKA and Ak Bars ended the season, the Zavarukhin brothers' teams Avtomobilist and Traktor sensationally reached the quarterfinals, and SKA, led by Roman Rotenberg, won a difficult series against Igor Larionov's Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.
The champion and finalist resigned. CSKA Moscow and Ak Bars Kazan played the Gagarin Cup among themselves last season in the KHL, but in the new season they abandoned their championship ambitions at the first round stage. The “Red-Blues” lost to Yaroslavl’s “Lokomotiv” in five matches of the series, and the Kazan team “met” in a similar period in the confrontation with the Yekaterinburg “Avtomobilist”. For the head coaches of both teams that suffered defeat – Sergei Fedorov and Zinetula Bilyaletdinov – such an unsuccessful result could cost them their jobs.

For the second time in KHL history, the finalists of the previous season failed to advance beyond the first round. Previously, a similar situation occurred ten years ago, when Dynamo Moscow and Traktor Chelyabinsk ended the season in the 2014 Gagarin Cup at the first round stage.
The Zavarukhin brothers may meet in the final The successes of cousins ​​Nikolai and Alexey Zavarukhin, who head Avtomobilist and Traktor, respectively, created one of the main sensations of the first round of the playoffs. Before the start of the tournament, many journalists and hockey experts were confident that Ak Bars, due to their experience, would beat the Ekaterinburg team, and the Chelyabinsk team would not be able to do anything against the Ufa Salavat Yulaev. In reality, everything happened differently. “Avtomobilist” confidently beat the Kazan team and did not give Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s star players any chance of triumph, and “Traktor”, with numerous cases of using massacres and power struggles, knocked out “Salavat” Viktor Kozlov. Even Alexander Samonov could not save the Ufimtsev: one of the best goalkeepers of the regular season did not show the same reliability in the playoffs.

In the second round of the playoffs, Avtomobilist will meet with SKA, and Traktor will meet with Dynamo Moscow. Theoretically, the teams of two cousins ​​can only meet in the final of the Gagarin Cup.

Rehabilitation of SKA, the power of Avangard and the historic victory of Spartak The series between SKA and Torpedo became one of the most interesting in the first round of the KHL playoffs. According to all forecasts, the St. Petersburg team should have beaten the Nizhny Novgorod team, which was facing a crisis, but in the first match, Larionov’s team, thanks to the efforts of goalkeeper Ivan Kulbakov and their young stars, defeated Rotenberg’s team and called into question the further success of SKA. The automakers were close to victory in the second match, in which they led with a score of 2:0. But Torpedo squandered their advantage and lost in the middle of the second overtime. Subsequently, SKA, due to skill, experience and freshness, strangled the Nizhny Novgorod team and did not give a single match to the opponent.

“Avangard” also showed mastery. Togliatti's Lada, which reached the playoffs in its first season after returning to the KHL, gave the Omsk team a fight and frayed a lot of their nerves, but as expected, it couldn't cope with the strength of the Hawks' powerful first line. Avangard's main stars Vladimir Tkachev and Reed Boucher, as well as team captain Damir Sharipzyanov, between them scored 19 points in five matches, which is half of all the effective actions of all players of the Omsk team.
Moscow “Spartak” also coped with “Severstal” due to a higher level of skill. The series of the “red-whites” with Cherepovets was perhaps the most unpredictable in the first round, but ended with the victory of the capital team in five games. Alexey Zhamnov won the series for the first time in his career as the head coach of the club, and Spartak for the first time in 14 years advanced to the second round solely on its own: in 2022, the red-whites reached this stage only thanks to the refusal of the Finnish Jokerit to participate in the tournament. In addition, Spartak and Severstal met all expectations regarding performance: between them, the teams scored 33 goals in five matches. This is the highest figure in all pairs of the first round.
Moscow won the battle of two Dynamos. Dynamo Moscow was the last to finish its performance in the KHL regular championship, as a result of which it became the best club in the league and won the Continental Cup for the first time in ten years. The Blue and Whites finished the first round of the playoffs later than everyone else. Their series against their teammates from Minsk, as expected, became perhaps the most difficult, nervous, fierce and energy-consuming. Although the Muscovites played with the worst team in the Western Conference that made it to the playoffs, the Minsk residents still gave Alexey Kudashov’s team serious competition.

Dynamo Moscow won the series only in the sixth match of the series, which took place in the capital of Belarus. During the confrontation, the “blue and white” almost lost Nikita Gusev. The club's main record holder and top scorer of the season missed the overtime of the fourth match due to health problems and did not play in the fifth meeting of the confrontation, but still returned to the lineup for the decisive game. For Kudashov, this is as important as success in the entire series, which resulted in his team reaching the quarterfinals of the Gagarin Cup.
Magnitogorsk Metallurg also encountered difficulties. For the first time in his coaching career, Andrei Razin overcame the stage of the first round of the KHL playoffs, but for this he and his team had to work hard in the series with Amur. Khabarovsk residents, under the leadership of Andrei Martemyanov, enjoyed their first participation in the Gagarin Cup in six years and almost created a sensation by tormenting Magnitogorsk with trips to the Far East. The series had every chance of reaching the decisive, seventh match, but Nikita Grebenkin was against this situation. In overtime of the sixth game, the young star of Metallurg sent Amur on vacation, and the Magnitogorsk team into the second round.

All pairs of the second round of the KHL playoffsGroup A, start of the series March 16:

  • Dynamo – Traktor
    Avangard – Lokomotiv

Group B, series start on March 17:

  • “Metallurg” – “Spartak”
  • SKA – “Avtomobilist”

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