Aleksander Barkov shines at a wild level – Ismo Lehkonen reveals the Finnish star’s telling reaction behind the scenes

Aleksander Barkov shines at a wild level Ismo Lehkonen
What are we talking about?

From the Edmonton Oilers. A disastrous fall led to the expected outcome: the head coach Jay Woodcroft got the shoe last week. Despite the fact that he was the NHL’s fifth winningest coach during his two and a half years in the city. However, the side slide in the fall was too much for the club management.

The group, which was promoted as a championship candidate in many places during the season, won only two of its first twelve matches.

Now the team is being piloted by someone kidnapped from the AHL Chris Knoblauch.

– GM Ken Holland wisely said that he still has confidence in the core group of the team. He reminded that in the previous two springs they have lost to the champion, ‘s ice hockey expert Ismo Lehkonen says.

What else could Holland have said? Holland protects with his words except Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl also its own background. Holland declared when he joined the club in 2019 that he believed in long-term work, a good plan and sticking to it. Loyalty was also an important value for him.

In reality, he has hired three coaches for the club in four years. Plannedness and loyalty have flown out the window at any time for any reason.

How many more coaches does this core group still need?

– The ball has now been passed to the leading players and we can only imagine how the stress and pressure will increase. However, we are now talking about Canada and Edmonton, and the media there are constantly asking why McDavid doesn’t have a net swing.

Under the new coach, Edmonton has won two games, but the expression seems anything but relieved.

There are still many question marks in the air.

Who surprised?

Alexander Barkov.

The Tappara-raised player is playing at a very high level right now on both sides of the puck. The fact that Barkov averages more than a point per game is no longer new.

Another thing is playing without the puck.

Barkov has won his game with five against five 15–3! Dangerous scoring positions have been recorded for Florida during the captaincy 51-22. The distribution of goal expectations for the Finn is almost 65 percent and the power statistic reading (+13) is the second best in the entire series.

Neighbors Sam Reinhart and Evan Rodrigues get to enjoy the ride of their lives next to a Finn.

– Reinhart is over a hundred points ahead. Sometimes people say this and that about Barkov, but that’s the level. You can put anyone next to that and Barkov makes him better. He is an overwhelming clear candidate, Lehkonen praises.

The Frank J. Selke Trophy is awarded to the NHL’s best defensive forward. Barkov won the award in the 2020–21 season.

If Barkov’s passing looked a little shaky a year ago in the fall – and the player himself recognized this – now the passing is like from another planet. Barkov is one of the best players in the NHL right now.

– I talked with him in the summer after the last final and he just stated that he knows what to do in the summer. Still it seems now. That dude never gets tired. Now he just enjoys and does the right things. It is a role model for all athletes. Get interested in the game, recognize the situation, make changes and improve.

Who flopped?

Columbus Blue Jackets.

Eleven previous matches have produced one win. There are problems here and there, not least in the players of the first basket. On the other hand, Columbus has played good matches from time to time, but lost those too.

– They are currently finding ways and means to lose series points. There’s a new eager coach (Pascal Vincent), who I believe is a very good coach. But. If the ten million player (Johnny Gaudreau) has scored one goal, that team can’t really handle it, Lehkonen’s line.

A person who has returned from sick leave does not deserve praise Patrik Laineka too. The balance of seven matches shows a power of 2+1. In the last match, Laine could have prevented at least one goal by blocking a shot.

– Those two are a lot of guards if the team wants to win. Goals must come from those players who get paid for scoring goals. And yes, it should show up there in other things as well.

The pressure is also increasing on GM Jarmo Kekäläinen in the direction of. A year ago, the team’s season practically ended in November, and the situation is not much better now.

– Kekäläinen himself knows that he should be in the front line putting out that fire.

Goal of the week

Joel Kiviranta is back!
Joel Kiviranta, who started the season at the Colorado farm, got Artturi Lehkonen through injury finally an NHL contract and thanked the responsibility immediately.

Colorado is sometimes a team that lives a little too much from the star cult, so there was really a demand for a player like Kiviranta due to Lehkonen’s sick leave.

Three (1+2) points in the opening game of the season is a five-star performance!

– Hard takeover, good feet, protection with the body and a decisive shot. Nice paint. A good example for the youth to never give up. He didn’t get a contract outright, but he knew he could make it if given the chance. He has everything Coach Bednar likes about him. Kiviranta is a great soul player, says Ismo Lehkonen.

Kiviranta moved to the Colorado organization from Dallas for this season. The Avalanche play their home games in Denver at 1 mile above sea level.

– It’s quite clear that when the hall is at an altitude of 1,600 meters, it takes some getting used to. It will probably take four weeks before the body gets used to it. It’s incredibly acidic, the lungs don’t really work. That’s why getting used to high altitude takes time for all players.

What next?

In the coming days, Lehkonen plans to closely monitor where the injury-ravaged New Jersey Devils are going. The team that had a great start to the season has lost two star players in recent weeks (Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier) completely off the tongue due to injuries.

The team seems to be a bit confused by the surprising turn of events and they have won only one of the five previous matches.

– The Devils are really confused, Lehkonen laughs.

– Starting with the defenders, everyone looks a bit like donkeys there now. The Devils became the favorites of many with their fresh skill hockey, but now it’s up to you to see what kind of team this is. In the east, there is still such a tough competition in the spring that you can’t take care all the time that the gap doesn’t get too big.

Lehkonen would not even be surprised by the changes in the way he plays.

– Coach Lindy Ruffin the art form is precisely playing tight defense and now it will be interesting to see if he pulls the card from the deck during injuries to close the hatches.

A new episode of the Ikan änäri podcast is published every Thursday at 12 noon. You can find all episodes of the podcast at this link.