The Montreal Canadiens and the rest of the NHL, as well as the AHL, ECHL and almost every other hockey league around the world has suspended play. The KHL has not, and that means Alexander Romanov continues play this week.
The entire hockey world is on “pause” right now. Well, that is aside from the KHL. While the National Hockey League is in hiatus waiting for the covid-19 pandemic to subside, the KHL is continuing with business as usual – for the most part.
The KHL playoffs are underway and the first round has been competed. The second round begins tomorrow, and though pretty much every other league in every other country has stopped participating in league play, the KHL will solider on with no fans in the stands.
Alexander Romanov, the 20 year old prospect of the Montreal Canadiens, plays for CSKA Moscow. They were the top ranked team in the KHL’s Western Conference and swept their opponent in the opening round. They move on to play Moscow Dynamo in the second round and their first game is Wednesday night. Which, of course, is early in the morning in Canada.
Romanov played a huge role for Russia at the World Juniors, but he has been a spare part for his KHL team in the playoffs thus far. His team dressed seven defenders in every game of their first round sweep, and it was pretty clear who the seventh defenseman was for them.
Romanov played 9:33 in the team’s first postseason game which was the least among all skaters. It only got worse from there as Romanov played just 3:07 in game two, 3:16 in game three and 3:51 in the fourth and final game of the opening round. He had just 15 shifts total after the opening game of the series.
The same thing happened to Romanov during last year’s postseason run. CSKA won the Gagarin Cup, and though Romanov started the playoffs playing ten minutes in the opening game, by the finals, he was stapled to the bench and did not touch the ice for the entire series against Avangard Omsk.
We will have to wait and see if Romanov gets a bigger opportunity in round two. In his teams second last game of the regular season, Romanov played close to 14 minutes against SKA St Petersburg, who CSKA was battling for the top seed in the west at the time. So, to see Romanov’s ice time drop so quickly in the playoffs is a bit odd.
Of course, this is the KHL and the fact they are even playing the games is a bit odd. A lot of things that go on in and around the KHL are odd. Has Romanov’s ice time been reduced because of his age? Is his commitment to move to the NHL next year affecting his role? Or is it strictly his on ice ability.
It is difficult to think that the player we saw at the World Juniors isn’t goo enough to warrant more than three or four shifts per game in the KHL postseason. With the rest of the hockey world on pause, all eyes will be on the KHL as they move into the league quarterfinals tomorrow.
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Montreal Canadiens fans will be interested to see how CSKA does, and more importantly, how big of a role Romanov carves out for himself in the coming weeks.