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New Jersey Devils European League Roundup: Week 3

Ilya Kovalchuk scored a hat trick for SKA St. Petersburg and Anton Volchenkov joined Torpedo in the last week of European action involving New Jersey Devils. There are also updates on Vladimir Zharkov, Artur Gavrus, and Marek Zidlicky.

Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

This was supposed to be the week where the 2012-13 NHL season would have begun. That's not happening. What is happening? Hockey. Specifically in Europe, as the various leagues have been playing games for over a month now. Over the last week, we learned that Anton Volchenkov joined HC Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod of the KHL while Artur Gavrus showed up in Belarus for HC Neman Grodno. While Gavrus is a prospect, what he does will be noted along with the other Devils in Europe.

Player Summaries

Gavrus showed up last week for Neman, participating in their 2-1 win over Mogilev on October 4. He has since suited up for three games and picked up his first assist in his second game, a 5-3 loss to Shaktar. You can see it at about 53 seconds into this highlight video where Gavrus set up the one-timer. It's his only point in the Belarussian Extraliga so far. Based on the official game reports at Neman Grodno's official site, Gavrus has been utilized as a right winger. He's been moved around the various units, so he may not be settled in yet. Additionally, the Neman site doesn't break down who's been penalized or how many shots have been taken, so all I have for Gavrus for now are points and games played.

Meanwhile, HC Kladno in the Czech Extraliga has only played in two games since last week's post. Last Friday, Marek Zidlicky appeared for his club in a 3-2 loss to PSG Zlin and picked up only a -1 for his efforts. Just yesterday, Kladno lost 2-1 via a shootout against Skoda Plzen HC. Zidlicky was more involved as he provided the secondary assist on Kladno's lone goal in regulation. He also finished a +1 in the game, for what it's worth. Zidlicky remains as Kladno's scoring leader among defensemen and tied for fifth in the league with six points.

Over in the KHL, Anton Volchenkov made his debut appearance for his new team on October 10 when Torpedo played Barys Astana. Volchenkov played 19:09, took a tripping penalty in the first period, took no shots (not that A-Train is a shooter), and he was caught on the ice for two quick goals by Vadim Krasnoslobotsev that tied up the game 4-4. Based on the game's highlights, the first wasn't on his side and the second was a deflection. Volchenkov really didn't make any mistakes so I wouldn't read too much into that -2. At least, Torpedo pulled out a 5-4 win with a fifth goal scored within the game's final five minutes, so Volchenkov can at least smile at the result. By the time you read this, Torpedo will have played or will be about to play Yugra Khanty-Mansiysek. Hopefully, Volchenkov will continue to get prime minutes and not be out there when a man with a really, really long name erases a two goal lead.

Vladimir Zharkov continues playing with CSKA Moscow. They didn't do too much within the last week as they only played one game and they lost at home to SKA St. Petersburg. More on that shortly, but Zharkov didn't do too much in the game. While he's playing regularly for CSKA, he's been averaging only 11:24 of ice time per game. It seems to me that the CSKA coaches see the NHL-caliber fourth liner as a KHL-caliber fourth liner. At least he's got two goals and 19 shots. He didn't have any shots in CSKA's 4-2 loss to SKA.

Speaking of, let's talk about Ilya Kovalchuk. You know him. He's a guy who produces. He was held pointless and only two shots in SKA's 4-3 win over Lev on October 6. You didn't hear about that. No, you've heard about the game against CSKA where Kovalchuk scored a hat trick. Let's watch it together:

All three goals were simple, go-the-net-and-good-things-happen goals. (Also: It's clear his back isn't an issue.) They were three humongous, big goals and not just because they got past Ilya Bryzgalov. No, they propelled a SKA comeback at home to win 4-2. The rivalry between the two clubs extends back to the Soviet days when they were Army clubs. I'm pretty sure the fans on both sides still relish seeing their team beat the others. And if I'm wrong, I know that the SKA faithful enjoyed each and everyone of Kovalchuk's three goals.

The Regular Season Stats As Of 10/11/2012

Devil League Team GP G A Pts PIM +/- SOG
Ilya Kovalchuk KHL SKA 6 4 6 10 0 7 22
Vladimir Zharkov KHL CSKA 12 2 0 2 0 -1 19
Anton Volchenkov KHL Torpedo 1 0 0 0 2 -2 0
Marek Zidlicky Czech Kladno 9 0 6 6 14 6 --
Artur Gavrus Belarus Neman 4 0 1 1 -- -- --

Incidentally, the KHL website has Kovalchuk credited for four goals and seven assists. I'm not sure where he picked up the extra assist, given that his regular season stats just have six. In any case, Kovalchuk is second on SKA in scoring right now and in half as many games as the team leader, Patrick Thoresen. Impressive.

What's Next

Kovalchuk will get the chance to do more damage in the KHL as SKA will have four games coming up in the coming week. They will play Avtomobilist on Saturday the 13th, Metallurg Novokuznetsk on Monday the 15th, Amur on Tuesday the 16th, and Sibir on the 18th. With the exception of Avtomobilist, it appears that they are all road games.

Zharkov and CSKA will play three times in the coming week. First up is Neftekimik on Saturday the 13th. That's followed by Salavat Yuslev on Monday the 15th and Ak Bars on Wednesday the 17th. All three appear to be at home so the Moscow faithful can witness the Zhark Attack in person.

Torpedo plays today and they will have two more games before next week's round up. Volchenkov will make his home debut against Metallurg Magnitogorsk on Monday the 15th. Two days later, Torpedo will host Traktor on Wednesday the 17th.

Zidlicky and Kladno will be back in action on Sunday the 14th when they play HC VERVA Litvinov. They'll have the league's only game next Thursday when they face off against HC Energie Karlovy Vary.

Gavrus will suit up again for HC Neman Grodno on Tuesday the 16th when they play Lida. That will be their only game prior to next week's round up; though, they will be playing against Brest next Friday on the 19th.

That just about does it for this week. How impressed were you by Kovalchuk's hat trick? Isn't it good that Zidlicky played in two games without taking a penalty? Will there be a sixth Devil to play in Europe soon as the lockout drags on? Are you following these games or are you just interested in the results? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the now-five Devils playing in Europe in the comments. Thank you for reading.