March 28, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

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Away from the KHL, Russia gets ice time and points in the Canucks Podkoljin Karzala Cup

Away from the KHL, Russia gets ice time and points in the Canucks Podkoljin Karzala Cup

Away from the KHL, Podkolgin led the team to Russia as captain.

At this point, the Vancouver Conks are usually one month into the NHL season. There is a lot to talk about or discuss with Canucks fans: the winning or losing streak, the goal of being called back after some controversial lineup decisions or video review didn’t make sense. You know, the usual NHL stuff.

Instead, the start of the 2020-21 season will not be until 2021 The NHL is targeting a January 1 start date, Other sources suggest May be pushed back to February.

For those who are zoning for the Connex solution, there is at least one Connex player you can see: the team’s top chance, Vasily Podkolgin.

Podkoljin is playing for Team Russia in the Karjala Cup in Finland this week. Their first game of the tournament is Thursday morning, but You can catch the whole game on YouTube, Where Russia broadcasts hockey.

For Podkolgin, it should be a nice change from his season with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL. In the KHL, Podcolgin worked hard to keep points, mainly because he had less snow time. He averages just 11:58 per game, but that average is higher than some of the games he has had the most snow time, because half of his teammates are bound with COVID-19.

Recently, Podkolgin was sent to the VHL, Russia’s second-tier men’s league, and when he returned to the KHL he was given just 3:52 during the snow.

Podcolgin’s KHL season has Connex fans for two different reasons. His lack of point production in the KHL means some are worried that he will not have the top-six offensive knocks in his NHL future. Others are concerned that his lack of ice time at KHL will impair his development.

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With Team Russia, Podkolgin will hopefully alleviate both concerns. On Thursday, he led all the Russian forwards during the snow and took two assists along the way.

Podkoljin was selected as the captain of the team going into the Karzala Cup for Russia, which is a bit surprising, but as the cup is a men’s tournament as part of the Euro Hockey Tour. The Euro Hockey Tour is usually used by the four participating nations – Russia, Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic – to prepare for the World Championships or the Olympics, or to evaluate players for the men’s national team.

Instead, Russia wears a full-fledged junior list, using games to prepare for the World Junior Championships, which begin on the eve of Christmas.

The reason behind sending the U20 team to Finland is very simple: other U20 tournaments have been canceled or changed due to the COVID-19 epidemic. The decision to send a junior team was not popular in Finland, apparently A Finnish hockey writer described it as “outrageous”.

Maybe Finland should have sent their U20 teams to the Karzala Cup. Their U20 teams are scheduled to play three games this week, as well as the World Juniors in preparation, but two Swedish players tested positive for COVID-19, which led to the event being canceled.

Finland head coach Jukka Jalonen was certainly not impressed with Russia’s decision.

“Frankly, we are not interested in playing with the U20 team.” He said. “We’d play if we had to but we didn’t care less.”

Perhaps he did not expect much from the youngsters playing against his men’s team, but Russia quickly ate up his words, taking a 1-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game. They beat Finland 6-2 and never looked back.

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Podkoljin led with his two assistants and a typical high work rate in the foreche and neutral zone. He played in every situation, killed penalties and worked in front of the net in the power play and was clearly one of Russia’s best players.

He picked up his first assist on a 3-0 goal, chipped the puck past the Finnish defender on the boards with just one hand on his stick, and then resolved the bounce puck and sent the pass through traffic to Ilia Saphonov.

Podcolgin’s second aid came in the power play, but he did so much more with the ending than the setup.

He moved Puk‌ to Yegor Afanasyev on the right boards, and then placed himself in front of the net, playing catch with Daniel Chaika on top of Afanasyev zone. When the shot finally let go of Chaika’s point, Podkoljin was there to test the goaltender and almost tipped the puck inside him.

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Podkoljin played well as a net-front in the power play, occasionally stepping to the side to provide a passing option or create scoring opportunities, using his large frame and quick arms to defend the puck.

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Like Podcolgin, his play in the defensive zone and the neutral zone is just as good as his work in the offensive zone. He did a couple good breakups on the penalty kill, but I wanted to highlight this sequence in the third period.

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Podkoljin begins the breakout by playing a clever game along the boards: instead of trying to force a pass in the middle, he passes a slick backhand off the boards for a Russian rush spring. He follows the play, taking Puk along the nearby boards and riding a short bicycle to Afanasyev.

When Afanasiev loses the puck, Podkoljin makes a beeline to the best place to win the puck, steals the puck from the Finnish player at the blueline and drags the nifty toe to escape the check. He was then able to get the puck back in the Finnish zone to facilitate a line change.

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Despite two shots from Rush to Russia created by Podcolgin, the play did not achieve a goal, and still shows how Podcolgin does all the right things on the ice to push the Puck takeover in the right direction. There is a reason the coaches love him, perhaps except for his coaching with SKA at KHL.

However, it is clear that Podkoljin is going to have a snowy time with the Russian U20 team as he did not make it to the KHL. Now it is his choice to provide point production.

With Team Russia, 2020 6th round pick Picture Dmitry Zlodeyev has another chance for Connex. At the age of 18, Zlodev worked hard to make the World Junior team and played a few minutes with Finland. He failed to reach the game in the third period and then came on the ice only in special teams, taking shifts in both penalty kill and power play.