Recent Highlights: A tough week for London

Thursday’s Games

Bern 5, Stockholm 2  – Bern stormed through Stockholm Thursday, looking a lot like the Bears of a year ago. They outshot the home team 43-21 getting 3 points from Jason Spezza and 2 each from Radim Vrbata and Andy McDonald. Cam Ward made 38 saves for Stockholm.

Minsk 5, Paris 3 –  Both teams’ powerplays were working well, accounting for 5 of the game’s 8 goals. Evgeny Malkin kept a 16-game scoring streak alive with three assists, but his work wasn’t enough to overcome the 5-0 lead the Hussars built in the first 25 minutes of the game. Five different players scored for Minsk, including Kyle Clifford, who notched his first of the season. Jakub Voracek led the Hussars with 3 points while defenseman Nick Leddy contributed with a goal, 3 hits and 4 blocked shots. Malkin and teammate Corey Perry are currently tied for third in the league in individual scoring.

Moscow 7, London 4 –  Spartak outshot the Dons 32-19 with Travis Moen getting 6 shots on London’s Marc-Andre Fleury in 8 minutes of ice time. Kyle Quincey scored 2 goals for Moscow. He was one of 6 Spartak players with multi-point games.  Five players were plus 3 for Moscow.

Helsinki 5, Copenhagen 2 – Copenhagen had a one-goal lead until Nerius Alisauskas tied it at 2-2 with goal number 2 of the season in period number 2. Coincidentally, one of the assists on the goal went to Jordin Tootoo. While the shots were almost even in the third period, Helsinki’s Paul Stastny scored 3 goals to allow the Jokerit to pull away for the win.

Edinburgh 4, St. Petersburg 3 – The Capitals were 3 of 6 on the powerplay and their penalty killers were able to keep St. Petersburg 0 for 5 with the man advantage. John Tavares’ 15th goal of the season made it 4-1 in the second period and turned out to the game-winner. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (2 assists) was the only Edinburgh player with more than a point, while St. Pete’s Andrew Ference and Vladimir Sobotka also managed 2 points.

Prague 4, Bratislava 3 –  This battle of former Czechoslovakian cities was a rough one with 17 penalties, 11  of them taken by the losing team. It also featured two fights. Christian Ehrhoff of the Eagles took on Ryan Getzlaf in the first period and Nick Johnson in the second. Thomas Vanek of Prague scored twice in the first period and was named the game’s first star. Both teams played their backup goalies, and Prague’s Steve Mason made 30 saves to get the win over Nikolai Khabibulin.

Wednesday’s games

Dublin 4, Frankfurt 3 – Steven Stamkos scored twice for Frankfurt and the Season 1 goal champion now has 15 this season, but it wasn’t enough to propel the Inferno past Dublin in Germany. Tomas Plekanec’s 7th of the season came on the powerplay with just under 2 minutes to play and it put the Irish in front for good. Earlier in the game, Plekanec took a major penalty leaving his team short for 5 minutes, but Frankfurt wasn’t able to capitalize.  The league’s leading scorer, Ryan Kesler of Dublin,  had 1 assist, 8 shots on goal, blocked 2 shots and was 22 of 39 on faceoffs but he finished a minus 2.

Bratislava 7, Helsinki 4 –  Zdeno Chara looked a little tired going into the game and coach Bruce Boudreau moved him down to the third defense pair with Douglas Murray. Chara responded with one of his best games of the season, scoring 2 goals and adding 2 assists. Tyler Ennis of Bratislava had 3 points and four other Eagles had 2 points each against Henrik Lundquist. Ryan Smith of Helsinki scored twice for the visitors.

Bern 5, Milan 2 – Radim Vrbata scored late in the first period to break a 1-1 tie and the Bears then scored the game’s next three goals to pull away. Brendan Morrison scored a shorthanded goal for Bern, his second goal of the season. Morrison and defenseman Kimo Timonen were plus 3 for the game while Brent Seabrook blocked 3 shots, had an assist and was plus 2. Milan’s Henrik Sedin was 24 of 36 in the faceoff circle but was scoreless and minus 3 . His teammate Ryan Callahan had a worse day, finishing minus 4.

Paris 6, Berlin 1 –  When Smurf Nathan Horton scored with a little more than a minute left, it finally got Berlin on the scoreboard and it kept Tuukka Rask from getting a shutout. By then, though, the game was effectively over. Alexander Semin was the offensive star for Paris with 2 goals and 2 assists, while center Mike Ribeiro had 3 assists.

Madrid 5, Stockholm 3 – The Spartans took a 3-2 lead into the third period, but gave up 3 goals and let the game slip away. Jordan Staal scored his 6th of the season to open the third-period rally, and that tally was followed by goals by Matt Cullen (2nd) and Joe Pavelski (13th). Two of Madrid’s younger forwards, Ryan Johansen and Sean Couturier, each had a goal and an assists in the first period to help the Royals to a 2-0 lead. Madrid outshot Stockholm 45-11, but three of those 11 Stockholm shots went in, with Eric Staal, Tuomo Ruutu and Ryan Clowe doing the honors.

Belfast 3, London 0 – Cory Schneider shut out London by making 28 saves. Tony Martensson, the Giants’ leading scorer, was also their leading scorer on Wednesday. He had a goal, an assist, 5 shots on goal and was 16 of 26 on faceoffs. Belfast’s other centers, Cody Hodgson and Sid Crosby were a combined 23 of 34 on faceoffs. Marc-Andre Fleury  made 34 saves for visiting London. Martensson has scored 25 points in 25 games. He is second on the team in shots, but first in goals with 13. He is tied for 12th in the league in goal scoring and although it is his first year in the EURO, he does not qualify as a rookie under WSH rules because he is a year too old at 26.

League notes:

  • Haus, Sweet Haus – Munich, number one in the Southern Conference, has the best home record in the league at 10-1. Their only loss was a 5-4 defeat on Oct. 27 loss to Paris. They face a stiff challenge at home tonight when the defending EURO Cup champion Geneva Generals come to town.
  • Wounded Wing in Frankfurt – Twenty-one players from 13 teams are currently listed on the league’s injury roll. The most seriously injured is Matt Duchene of the Belfast Giants, who is out for several more weeks with a shoulder injury. Two teams have 3 players on the shelf. Frankfurt is without Alex Steen, Simon Gagne and Max Pacioretty. To make matters worse, all 3 are left wings and one of the remaining left wingers, Taylor Pyatt, is playing hurt at about 81 percent speed. The injuries have meant more playing time for David Booth, Nathan Gerbe and John Scott. The Athens Greeks are doing without Niklas Kronwall, Ryan O’Reilly and Tomas Vincour.
  • Powerplay Specialist – Jake Gardiner, the 22-year-old defenseman who splits his time between the London Dons and the London pubs, has been an important cog in the EURO’s best powerplay machine. London, coached by Ken Hitchcock, is first in the league in PP efficiency, clicking at a 26.0 rate.  They aren’t the youngest powerplay units in the league – Minsk’s PP units average 23 and 21.4 years – but both of London’s powerplay units are executed by very young players. The first unit currently has Tyler Bozak, Devin Setoguchi and Taylor Hall up front with Gardiner and Zach Bogosian at the points. Average age: 23.2. The second unit currently has Tyler Seguin, Michael Grabner and David Clarkson up front with Gardiner and Jamie McBain at the points. Average age: 23.8 years. Twenty-year-olds Jeff Skinner and rookie Brandon Saad have also worked their way onto powerplay units for the Dons this season do bring down the average age a little further.  Clarkson, the right wing on London’s second PP unit, at 28 is the oldest of the 9 players on the Dons’ two 5-man units. Nine players on two 5-man units?  It’s not unheard of to have one player pulling extra duty on specialty teams and Gardiner plays the point on both PP units and his young legs are holding up just fine.  While Paris’ David Perron leads the league in powerplay goals with 9, and Paris’ Corey Perry and Gothenburg’s Carl Hagelin have 8 each, London’s Clarkson and Bozak aren’t far behind with 6 each.  Nine other Dons players have scored powerplay goals this season. Gardiner has 5. He has 7 goals total and 21 points in 27 games. Last year, he scored 9 goals and 33 points in 82 games and his ice time has gone up from 24 to 30 minutes per game from a season ago. London has gone through a very rough stretch lately. The young Dons have lost their last 6 games, being outscored by a combined 32-14. Four of those losses came this week and two of them just Wednesday and Thursday. They get one day to rest before suiting up for Oslo on Saturday and then in the week after that, they get the league’s top team, Copenhagen, twice.
  • All-Star site – There will be a runoff election to select the host city for the second EURO All-Star game. Somehow, 27 votes were cast.  The cities which had more than one vote will be eligible. Please vote by Sunday at noon.  Here are the results: Bratislava 3; Athens, 2, Belfast 2, Dublin 2, Geneva 2, London 2, Prague 2, Zurich 2, Berlin 1, Bern 1, Gothenburg 1, Helsinki 1, Minsk 1, Munich 1, Oslo 1, Paris 1, St. Petersburg 1, Stockholm 1.

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