6. SKA, 14 matches, 8 regulation victories, 3 defeats, 2 penalty shootout defeats, 1 overtime defeat, goal difference 41-36, 19 points
19. Sochi, 11 matches, 3 regulation victories, 1 overtime victory, 6 defeats, 1 penalty shootout defeat, goal difference 20-33, 9 points
Sochi, a team which contains plenty of former SKA players such as Daniil Miromanov, David Rundblad, Pavel Kukshtel and Kirill Petkov, have endured a tough start to the campaign by only picking up nine points in 11 matches while suffering seven defeats. At the moment, the Leopards occupy a lowly 10th position of the Western Conference, but don't fall into the trap of thinking that they are an average team. Boasting strong, talented foreign players, Sochi are a high-quality side with a good balance between youth and experience. Their top forward line of Malte Stromwall (2+2), Linus Johansson (1+1) and Marcus Nilsson (2+1) - notably all Swedes - is capable of causing any team a large amount of problems. Sochi certainly do have a distinct Swedish flavour with Joel Lassinantti (goalkeeper), Rundblad (defenseman), Stromwall, Johansson and Nilsson (all forwards) on their books.
Nevertheless, as it stands, their top scorer is ex-SKA defenseman Miromanov with eight (2+6) points to his name. In their most recent five games, Sochi have tallied three wins, beating Salavat Yulaev on the road (3:2), Dinamo Riga at home (4:2) and Dinamo Minsk in Belarus (2:1) while losing to Dynamo Moscow (2:3) and Traktor Chelyabinsk (2:4) at the Bolshoi Arena.
SKA, on the other hand, are still in second spot of the same conference, two points ahead of Dinamo Minsk and four behind leaders CSKA Moscow. However, our team made a disappointing start to this home series on Wednesday, conceding a 1:4 defeat to Metallurg Magnitogorsk with the vast majority of the senior squad making their maiden appearance after returning to the team. Furthermore, that was the second consecutive setback for SKA in the 2020/2021 KHL regular season following the preceding 2:3 penalty shootout loss to Barys in Kazakhstan. SKA have won two out of the last five games.
POINTS LEADERS IN LAST FIVE MATCHES
Vladimir Tkachyov: 4 (2+2) points
Evgeny Timkin: 4 (1+3) points
Dmitry Zavgorodniy: 4 (0+4) points
Daniil Miromanov: 6 (2+4) points
Sergei Shmelyov: 4 (1+3) points
Jere Karjalainen: 3 (1+2) points
Lassinantti, signed from Lulea of the Swedish Hockey League this year, is considered the starting Sochi goalkeeper. So far, the 27-year-old has been a solid figure for his new team, registering a save percentage of 90.9%, a goals against average of 2.66, one shutout and three victories. As for SKA, Mikhail Berdin has participated in six consecutive matches since joining our organisation, earning a 90.6% save percentage, a goals against average of 2.61 and two wins.
WHERE TO WATCH