European Leagues

European Game Day: 12-3-11

SM-liiga (Finland):
SaiPa 4 @ JYP 3
Riku Helenius, JYP, Loss, 17/21, 4.15 GAA, .810 sv%
Season totals: 14 GP, 8-6-0, 6 SO, 1.51 GAA, .931 sv%

For once Riku didn't get a shutout. The netminder allowed an uncharacteristic 4 goals in JYP's 4-3 loss to SaiPa. Ex-Ducks farmhand Brian Salcido had 1 goal and 1 assist for SaiPa in the win. JYP plays the mighty Pelicans of Lahti next on Wednesday.

Elitserien (Sweden):
Djurgardens 5 @ Lulea 4 (OT)
Johan Harju, Lulea, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 7 SOG
Season totals: 27 GP, 9-5-14, +4, 8 PIM

When Ex-Lightning Prospects Attack! Defenseman Andreas Holmqvist had the overtime, game-winning, power play goal for Djurgardens in their 5-4 win over Lulea. Also on the board for Djurgardens was Josef Boumedienne with 2 assists and Jimmie Olvestad with 1 assist. It would have brought a tear to Rick Dudley's eye. Lulea gets Brynas next on Monday.

In MHL (Russia Jr.) action, Nikita Kucherov was out of the lineup again today for CSKA Jr. in their 9-2 win over Orenburg. He was healthy when he left North America for the Subway Super Series, so still no word on if there in an injury or an illness. He is still listed on CSKA Jr.'s roster.

SM-liiga Game Day: 12-2-11

The legend continues to grow...

SM-liiga (Finland):
JYP 6 @ Tappara 0
Riku Helenius, JYP, Win, 15/15, SO, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 sv%
Season totals: 13 GP, 8-5-0, 6 SO, 1.31 GAA, .940 sv%

Today was the 3rd or 4th time this season I've gone to look at the results from Finland and said to myself, "No bleeping way!" Riku Helenius (pictured) continues to bend the rules of time and space, as he shut out Tappara today on 15 saves in JYP's 6-0 win. Ex-Lightning forward Eric Perrin had 1 goal and 3 points in the win. JYP plays SaiPa on Saturday.

I get that JYP is a very good defensive team. I get that Riku is benefiting greatly from playing behind a very good defensive team. But, with 6 shutouts in 13 starts, and considering his tandem-mate Joni Myllykoski doesn't have any shutouts in 15 appearances, it's become something you can't dismiss anymore. At this stage, it's reminiscent of how people used to dismiss Martin Brodeur because he played behind a very strong defensive team in New Jersey. And, yet, it's not like you could have plugged any goaltender in there for New Jersey and won championships, and the guy now holds or is close to holding just about every goaltending record in the book.

No, I'm not saying Riku Helenius, who at this time last year was getting routinely clobbered as a backup for Sodertalje in the Elitserien after being excommunicated from North America by the Lightning, is another Martin Brodeur. But, then again, doesn't it seem like he might be justifying the belief that the Lightning had when they drafted him 15th overall in 2006 that there might be something special about him?

And, aren't you a little curious what he could do if the Lightning got him back to North America, too?

Elitserien Game Day: 12-1-11

Lulea 3 @ Skelleftea 2 (SO)
Johan Harju, Lulea, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 26 GP, 9-4-13, +4, 8 PIM

Lulea overcame a 2 goal deficit to defeat Skelleftea 3-2 in the shootout. Johan Harju was scoreless in the match and failed in his shootout attempt. Lulea plays Djurgardens on Saturday.

KHL Game Day: 11-30-11

KHL (Russia):
Cherepovets 1 @ Chelyabinsk 4
Nikita Nesterov, Chelyabinsk, 0-0-0, +3, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals (KHL): 5 GP, 0-0-0, +9, 4 PIM
Season totals (MHL): 23 GP, 6-9-15, +12, 20 PIM

Vasily Koshechkin, Cherepovets, Loss, 22/25, 3.10 GAA, .880 sv%
Season totals: 19 GP, 9-8-0, 1 SO, 2.76 GAA, .914 sv%

Give it another month, and Nikita Nesterov might lead the whole league in +/-. The young blueliner was +3 with a minor for interference in Chelyabinsk's 4-1 smackdown of Vasily Koshechkin and Cherepovets. The blueliner's +9 KHL mark is quickly catching up to his solid +12 mark so far this year in junior play in the MHL. Cherepovets draws Dynamo Minsk on Sunday. Chelyabinsk gets Ekaterinburg on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Nikita Kucherov did not appear for CSKA in their 3-2 shootout loss to Novgorod. However, his junior linemate Nikita Gusev was called up for the game. No word yet on a potential injury/illness.

European Game Day: 11-29-11

SM-liiga (Finland):
KalPa 2 @ JYP 1
Riku Helenius, JYP, DNP
Season totals: 12 GP, 7-5-0, 5 SO, 1.42 GAA, .937

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but if you had a goaltender who has had a shutout in 42% of his starts through 12 starts, wouldn't you put him in net more? In any event, Riku Helenius sat backup today to Joni Mullykoski in JYP's 2-1 loss to KalPa. JYP draws Tappara on Friday.

MHL (Russia Jr.):
CSKA Jr. 3 @ Togliatti Jr. 2
Nikita Kucherov, CSKA Jr., DNP
Season totals (MHL): 14 GP, 13-15-28, +8, 28 PIM
Season totals (KHL): 10 GP, 0-1-1, -1, 2 PIM

Where in the world is Nikita Kucherov? The talented forward has yet to appear since the end of the Subway Super Series in Canada. He was not in the lineup again today as CSKA Jr. beat Togliatti Jr. 3-2. Kucherov's linemate for both CSKA Jr. and the Super Series had 1-1-2 in the win. CSKA's big club plays tomorrow. Will Kucherov surface there?

Elitserien (Sweden):
Timra 2 @ Lulea 1 (SO)
Johan Harju, Lulea, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 25 GP, 9-4-13, +4, 8 PIM

Johan Harju was scoreless and failed on his shootout attempt in Lulea's 2-1 loss to Timra. That is a bad loss for Lulea to the last place team on the Elitserien table. They'll try to rebound on Thursday against Skelleftea.

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