Tag: Anton Belov


Horak bolts Edmonton for KHL


A second young Edmonton player has left the organization to sign in Russia.

Roman Horak, the Czech center acquired from the Flames in last year’s Ladislav Smid trade, has signed for Vityaz Podolsk of the KHL, the club announced on Monday.

Horak, 22, was originally a Rangers draftee and dealt to Calgary in 2011. He enjoyed his best NHL season with the Flames in 2011-12, scoring 11 points in 61 games — as a 20-year-old — before scoring seven points in 20 games during the 2012-13 season.

Horak struggled to get in the lineup with Edmonton, however, making just two appearances while spending the majority of his time in AHL Oklahoma City — where he performed quite well. Horak had 21 goals and 48 points in 53 games for the Barons this year.

As mentioned above, Horak wasn’t the only Oiler to leave for the KHL this offseason. Defenseman Anton Belov also departed to sign with SKA St. Petersburg and, shortly after leaving, said part of his reason for going to Russia is that he no longer wanted to play under Edmonton head coach Dallas Eakins.

Belov left Oilers for KHL because he didn’t want to play for Eakins

Anton Belov

Anton Belov’s sudden departure from the Edmonton Oilers for the KHL came out of nowhere.

The young Russian defenseman had just finished his first season in the NHL and looked to be someone the team could use in the future for their struggling blue line.

But why did he leave so suddenly? Turns out he wasn’t a big fan of coach Dallas Eakins.

Things were bad in Edmonton this season as the team finished with the third-worst record in the NHL. Eakins’ handle on things in his first season behind the bench for the Oilers always appeared to be a bit too interesting. Belov saying he didn’t want to play for him won’t help many with their opinion of either Eakins or Belov. He was set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Belov played 57 games with Edmonton this season and had a goal and six assists and averaged nearly 18 minutes per game of ice time. After taking off after a tough season, it might be a while before we see Belov back in the NHL, if he comes back at all.

Belov bolts Edmonton, signs in KHL

Anton Belov

The Anton Belov era in Edmonton is over.

Belov, who appeared in 57 games for the Oilers last season — his first with the club — has signed with KHL SKA St. Petersburg, the club announced on Wednesday. While the move isn’t groundbreaking, the timing is curious as it came just four days after Belov played 12:05 in Edmonton’s season-ending win over Vancouver.

The 27-year-old Russian d-man joined the Oilers this year after spending all of his previous professional career in Russia, primarily with Avangard Omsk. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder impressed NHL scouts while representing Team Russia at the 2013 World Hockey Championships, finishing with four points in eight games and a plus-8 rating and was believed to be pursued by a number of clubs,  including the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Belov scored one goal and seven points for the Oilers this season, missing 11 games with an oblique injury.

In addition to playing for Edmonton, Belov also suited up for Russia at the Winter Olympics in Sochi this past February. He appeared in all five of Russia’s games, scoring one goal while averaging just over 13 minutes per contest.

Five theories why the Russians lost

Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men

1. Their best players weren’t good enough

Save for Pavel Datsyuk, who was excellent, and Ilya Kovalchuk, who ended the tournament with three goals, including the only one versus the Finns. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and Alex Semin all failed to produce the type of offense that was needed, given their talent. Alexander Radulov had six points in five games, but he also took two costly penalties in the shootout loss to the United States. Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov made specific mention of Ovechkin in the post-game press conference, saying he couldn’t explain why such a great goal-scorer could only score once in five games. Speaking of the coach…

2. Bilyaletdinov coached poorly

Also during the press conference, one of the reporters chastised Bilyaletdinov for not splitting up Ovechkin and Malkin. Another questioned the way Valeri Nichushkin was deployed. And, of course, the choice of goaltender for the Finland game will be questioned. Why Semyon Varlamov and not last year’s Vezina Trophy winner, Sergei Bobrovsky? The first Finland goal that Varlamov allowed was stoppable. Not only that, it came within two minutes of Kovalchuk’s opener, making it an untimely, stoppable shot. Bilyaletdinov, by the way, said he wanted to remain coach, but admitted that the decision was not up to him.

3. The pressure was too much

Teemu Selanne said he could sense the Russians’ frustration growing as the game wore on: “We knew that they were tired.” Similarly, Sami Salo said he could “only imagine the kind of pressure” the hosts were under. Maybe it was the pressure that got to them, maybe it wasn’t. When a team presses, you often see individuals try to take over, instead of trusting that the system will pay off, and we probably saw a bit of that versus the Finns. Having said that, before the tournament started, Ken Holland had some cautionary words about assuming that pressure was a factor in a team’s performance: “Sometimes that it is the case. Sometimes…these are good teams.” Which brings us to this…

4. This may have been an upset, but Finland is no pushover

“I think the turning point for our tournament was the Canada game,” said Selanne. “In the first period, we were a little bit nervous. A lot of guys had never played against the best players in the world, but they saw and they realized they can compete against those guys. The whole body language changed. Now we believe we can beat anybody.” Finland also has Tuukka Rask, and that can’t be ignored. From Jim Craig to Dominik Hasek, we’ve seen goaltenders steal games in the Olympics before. Not to discount the timely offensive plays made by Selanne, Juhamatti Aaltonen, and Mikael Granlund, but the Russians outshot Finland, 38-22, meaning Rask was forced to make 37 saves. A good team that works hard and believes in itself can do big things with a great goalie.

5. The entire team just wasn’t good enough

Granted, most expected the Russians to get beyond the quarterfinals, but let’s not pretend they were the favorites here. We weren’t the only ones asking if expectations were too high, but for the record, we definitely did. This is a team that came into the Olympics with questionable depth and a questionable blue line. In the end, those two factors weren’t the main reasons they lost, but they didn’t help either. Just look how much Drew Doughty has boosted the Canadians’ offense from the back end. Only one Russian defenseman, Anton Belov, finished with a goal in Sochi.

OK, so that’s five theories. Feel free to add yours below, or disagree with mine. I’m off to watch the United States-Czech Republic game. Good hockey day today. (Unless you’re Russian.)

Ovechkin: Russians got ‘casual’ after early lead vs. Slovenia


After scoring twice in the opening four minutes against Slovenia on Thursday, Russia looked like it was primed for a blowout win.

Just one problem — the Russians took their collective foot off the gas.

Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk acknowledged as much following the 5-2 win, saying a combination of the quick start and frenzied home crowd had an effect on the remainder of the contest.

“We started really well, but after when we got the lead 2-0, we played more casual,” Ovechkin said, per the Olympic News Service. “We can’t play like that in the future.”

Kovalchuk, who netted the eventual game-winner on a late second-period power play, said Russia was guilty of whipping the puck around too much and a hesitancy to fire away.

“In the second period we got too relaxed, but we gathered ourselves back in the third period,” he said. “We started to pass more in the second period, that is why we were told to shoot more during the break.”

The Russians out-shot Slovenia 18-4 in the first period, but just 17-10 over the final two frames. Slovenia gradually worked its way back into the game and trailed by just one goal heading into the third period, before Valeri Nichushkin and Anton Belov scored to put the contest out of reach.

It does have to be said, though, that Russia displayed tremendous energy and tenacity to start the game, led by the Ovechkin-Evgeni Malkin-Alex Semin line. The trio was responsible for both of the opening goals — Malkin set up Ovechkin for the first, Ovechkin set up Malkin for the second — and clearly fed off the electric atmosphere at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

“Crazy crowd, unbelievable atmosphere out there,” Ovechkin said. “It’s great. It’s unbelievable.”

Related: Russia opens with win, beats Slovenia 5-2