Slovakian player dekes two defenders for highlight reel goal

Jared Clinton
Gabriel Spilar dekes a defender before scoring an incredible goal. (via GBS/RTVS/YouTube)

What’s better than making one defender look silly for a highlight reel goal? Making two defenders look silly for a highlight reel goal and deking out the first one from your knees.

Slovak Extraliga’s Gabriel Spilar, who plays for his hometown HC Kosice, did just that Sunday when he slipped by two MsHK Zilina defenders with a pair of slick moves and finished it off with a seeing-eye wrister that found the back of the net. Were this to happen in the NHL, it’d be on every highlight reel for the next decade. Read more

Slovakian league player scores must-see behind-the-back shootout goal

Jared Clinton
(via HockeySlovakia.sk/YouTube)

When Marek Malik scored his famous shootout goal, it was the 15th round of the shootout and if he missed, he missed. No one was expecting him to score. He couldn’t lose. The same can’t be said for Petr Kafka and the remarkable goal he scored Sunday.

Kafka was the fifth shooter to take the ice in the skills competition. If he scored, he took the pressure off of his club, HC Banksa Bystrica, and put it all on HC Kosice to score to tie the game. Kafka didn’t just score, he busted out one of the best shootout moves ever seen in a real game. Read more

KHL exodus: Viktor Tikhonov, Artemi Panarin to play in NHL next season?

Matt Larkin
Viktor Tikhonov. (Photo by Eduard Erben/isifa/Getty Images)

Jori Lehtera or Roman Cervenka?

That’s the question to ask about Viktor Tikhonov’s and Artemi Panarin’s respective futures. According to a report from TASS, converted to English via Google Translate, the SKA Saint Petersburg teammates want to play in the NHL next season. Their KHL contracts expire after the league playoffs this spring. April 30, to be exact.

So the question is: who are these guys, and will their NHL futures go the so-far-successful route of Lehtera or the short-and-not-so-sweet way of Cervenka?

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Prospect Hot List: Christian Fischer’s connection to the Tkachuks

Team USA's Christian Fischer (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Well, I’m writing this week’s Hot List in Toronto because the Beanpot tournament in Boston was postponed due to weather. Not fun, but at least I can try again in two weeks. In the meantime, the Five Nations tournament just wrapped up in the Czech Republic, with Russia winning and Team USA boasting the highest scorers in Matthew Tkachuk (Keith’s kid) and Jack Roslovic. Below you’ll find some of the best performers from that shindig plus other prospects from around the hockey world.

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Slava Fetisov is the most interesting – and frustrating – man in hockey today

Viacheslav Fetisov (Sony Pictures Classics)

The question is asked and the telephone line goes quiet. Viacheslav ‘Slava’ Fetisov doesn’t believe in speaking ill of the dead. Even when that dead person once arranged to have him handcuffed to a car battery in Kiev. Even when that dead person made his rather charmed life miserable, when he drove Fetisov out of the game for a time and when he almost derailed his dream of playing in the NHL.

But mores are mores, and Fetisov isn’t about to violate them. Read more

How the Soviets’ felt about the Americans’ Miracle on Ice

Ronnie Shuker
51791081-Fetisov

Americans love their underdogs. Even more so, perhaps, because America so rarely plays the role of the underdog. That’s why the United States’ victory over the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., remains one of the country’s greatest sports stories ever told.

For every underdog story, however, there is the favorite’s tragedy. Of Miracles and Men, the latest documentary in ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 series, takes the Miracle on Ice tale and tells it from the other side. Like the recently released Red Army, it humanizes the supposed robots of the Big Red Machine that were upset by a group of college kids on a Friday night in February some 35 years ago. Read more

World Cup of Hockey 2016: Projecting the Czech Republic roster

Matt Larkin
Tomas Plekanec should return to lead the Czechs at the 2016 World Cup. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s fair to assume the Czechs would like a do-over on the 2014 Olympic roster. It stood out for a few odd roster decisions, opting for the likes of Petr Nedved over Radim Vrbata and Tomas Kaberle over Jan Hejda. It wasn’t a shock to see the Czechs head back to their respective club teams without medals.

The Czechs are a team in transition right now, like Finland is, slowly saying goodbye to aging legends and paving the way for the next crop. Will the new wave, including David Pastrnak, Jakub Vrana and Pavel Zacha, crack the 2016 World Cup team?

Here’s the last of my projected rosters. To answer a frequently asked question: the NHL and NHL Players’ Association expect a large majority of their own players to comprise the teams but have not excluded players from other leagues at this time.

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World Cup of Hockey 2016: Projecting Russia’s roster

Matt Larkin
Even as Alex Ovechkin nears the end of his prime, he'll be a staple on Russia's 2016 World Cup squad. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Only two teams left to forecast for the 2016 World Cup of hockey, and we’ve reached the murkiest entry. Team Russia is perpetually toughest to predict because politics play a role in the choices. How many KHL players will be honored for their loyalty to their country and make the team over superior NHLers? It’s a delicate exercise.

I’ve given it my best shot below. Note the lack of right-handed shots on the blueline. It’s typically better to achieve balance, but shockingly few elite Russian defenseman shoot right.

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