Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fetisov's comeback recapped

Slava Fetisov made a comeback at the age of 51, playing for CSKA Moscow at home against SKA Saint Petersburg last night. He played because of injuries and it is still not decided if he will play more games. I had a chance to see the game, here are my thoughts:

The KHL looked more European and grimy than the NHL. The ice was full of ads, as were the player's uniforms. The arena is pretty small, 5-6000 people and looks kind of old. The game itself was slower and less intense than the NHL and a lot less physical. Still there were quite a few nice individual efforts and some great stick handling.
The arena played a weird mix of organ, russian marches and classic western rock. I was especially amused by their use of the James Bond theme and Metallica's Eye of the Beholder (a song about freedom of speech and thought), but still bonus for Metallica, they rock!

On the game
Notable SKA players: Sergei Brylin, Robert Esche, Maxim Rybin, Oleg Sparykin, Maxim Sushinsky, Alexei Yashin, Sergei Zubov, Andrei Zyuzin. And they're coached by former Red Wings assistant Barry Smith (who I actually met and got coached by way back in the summer of 96)
Notable CSKA players: Slava Fetisov, Nikita Filatov, Mark Hartigan (ex-Wings), Denis Parshin.

The first period was pretty boring. The teams played a lot in the neutral zone and there were few big chances. In the beginning of the second period it seemed like Mark Hartigan had made it 1-0 CSKA, but the goal was disallowed (I don't know for what, I could see no reason and the commentators spoke Russian, so I have no idea). Instead SKA scored shortly after on a nice individual effort by Maxim Sushinsky, the league's leading scorer. The period continued with SKA dominance and a little after the half-way mark Canadian defender Joel Kwiatkowski made it 2-0 with a point shot. The goalie should've had both those goals. Shortly after Sushinsky made it 3-0 on a delayed penalty call. In the third CSKA took over, thanks to some power plays and got their first goal on a PP marker by Mark Hartigan. The with 90 seconds to go Denis Parshin made it 3-2, but nothing more came out of it.

How was Fetisov?
Slava was played quite a lot during the first two periods. He took short shifts, but got quite a bit of ice time, even on the power play. In the third he played less and less, and I didn't see him on the ice during the last ten minutes.
His accleration wasn't the same and his stride was shorter, but he played a good and safe positioning game. He had some nice passes and several times showed great hockey sense. I was surprised to see him jump up on the play in the offensive zone a couple of times.

He was clearly not as strong as before and a couple of times he was battled off the puck. He had one bad turnover, but that was cleared up and led to him making a beautiful 2 zone pass. The only goal he was on for was the 3-0 goal against, where the delayed penalty was on him for hooking.

All in all, for a 51 year old guy he played very well, and I thought he was absolutely decent compared to the rest of his team

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