Vasily Kosheckin and Ilya Samsonov face Emil Garipov and Stanislav Galimov – KHL.ru experts Alexander Fomichyov and Andrei Malkov weigh in on Eastern Conference goaltending match-up.

KHL.ru previewed goaltending match-up on the eve of the series between SKA St. Petersburg and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Game 1 proved a lot of going to depend on solid netminding.

Sergei’s century helps Metallurg forge ahead. Playoff, March 24

We move to the East now. Which goaltending duo is better? KHL.ru experts weigh in on the upsides and shortcomings of Metallurg and Ak Bars netminders.

Metallurg Magnitogorsk – Ak Bars Kazan

Vasily Koshechkin, 33 years old

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In the regular season – 45 games, .927 save percentage, 2.13 goals against average, 6 shutouts.

In the playoffs – 8 games, .930 save percentage, 2.43 goals against average, 1 shutout.

Number of KHL playoff games - 94

Ilya Samsonov, 20 years old

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In the regular season – 27 games, .936 save percentage, 2.13 goals against average.

In the playoffs – 2 games, .949 save percentage, 1.30 goals against average

Number of KHL playoff games – 8

Ilya Samsonov often replaced Vasily Koshechkin in goal this regular season, even though he spent a decent amount of time with junior Team Russia, including the trip to the 2017 World Juniors, where he won bronze. Nevertheless, Metallurg Magnitogorsk coaching staff had no doubt who was going to get the nod for the post-season. Koshechkin has a lot of experience and he has already won two Gagarin Cups.

Samsonov was solid at the World Juniors and he also started in Metallurg’s first game of the post-season against Kunlun Red Star. Magnitogorsk head-coach Ilya Vorobyov jokingly said after the game that ‘Samsonov was put in goal because it was his birthday.’ The youngster didn’t look out of place and went on to get a win.

Emil Garipov, 25 years old

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In the regular season – 40 games, .929 save percentage, 2.01 goals against average, 4 shutouts

In the playoffs – 11 games, .938 save percentage, 1.59 goals against average, 2 shutouts

Number of KHL playoff games – 20

Stanislav Galimov, 29 years old

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In the regular season – 24 games, .926 save percentage, 1.94 goals against average, 3 shutouts

No games this post-season yet

Number of KHL playoff games - 24

In the pre-season the experts agreed Kazan had two equal goaltenders. However, Emil Garipov beat Stanislav Galimov to become Ak Bars’ starting netminder with a stellar performance in the regular season. Garipov played almost double the amount of games Galimov played, even though their statistics look almost the same. Garipov plays more and more games every year with Ak Bars. In the 2013-14 season Garipov played 20 games, in the 2014-15 season – 23 and last year he played 31. This season he played 40. Kazan head-coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov decided to go with Garipov in the playoffs as well and the latter doesn’t disappoint him. Garipov was named the top goaltender f the second round of the 2017 Gagarin Cup Playoffs. Galimov hasn’t played a single game this post-season so far, despite the fact he had more experience than Garipov before the start of this playoff campaign.

Fomichyov: “Koshechkin has experience but Garipov is a very skilled goaltender”

“Vasily Koshechkin has the most experience among the remaining goaltenders,” says Russian championship bronze medalist and KHL-TV commentator Alexander Fomichyov. “He know how to play in the playoffs and what it takes to win the Gagarin Cup. He is a goaltender of great size. He moves well for a tall goaltender. Ilya Samsonov is a very mobile netminder, even though he also has the size. Actually, there is a great deal of camaraderie between Magnitka’s netminders. They hang out together, give each other advice and ready to replace one another.

In my opinion, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov has been preparing Emil Garipov a long time for these games. He wanted him to become his starting goaltender. That what he sees him as now. Garipov is a very skilled goaltender. His moves are sharp. He does everything well. However, he could improve his shifting from one position to another. Certainly, Ak Bars has great defense but they wouldn’t make it far without their goaltending. Garipov is having a good season. He managed to outplay Stanislav Galimov, who is also a great netminder. Galimov’s biggest asset is his experience. He has competed in the playoffs, even though it was a while ago. I feel, he’s ready to step in whenever he’s needed.”

Malkov: “Koshechkin and Koskinen are alike, and Garipov needs to eliminate his mistakes”

“Vasily Koshechkin and [Mikko] Koskinen have similar assets – great experience and size,” says 2-time Russian championship title winner and U18 Team Russia goaltending coach Andrei Malkov. “[Koshechkin’s] problem was that he didn’t use his size well. But that’s not a problem anymore. He gained experience, worked with several coaches and it brought results. Now Koshechkin moves around quicker and most of the time just the way he has to. He usually puts himself in the best position. The other thing is, he’s not getting any younger. Hockey is a fast-paced game now and he’s having a hard time keeping up with it sometimes. But I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for him in the 2017 playoffs. It’s a minor shortcoming.

“I wouldn’t say Ilya Samsonov is having a difficult season. He’s just 20 years old. Young netminders just need to have a good night sleep after the game to feel fresh in the morning. His schedule is not a problem. He has size and power, he puts himself in the right position and he skates well. We saw that Samsonov can be a reliable backup when Metallurg needs it. So we can assume he’s mentally tough and it’s not a problem for him to step into the game.

“Ak Bars have a fairly young netminder Emil Garipov. He had a period when nothing was going his way but the entire team was struggling at the time. Zinetula Bilyaletdinov improved his team’s defensive play and Garipov benefited from that. Notably, he doesn’t have winning experience. But you have to keep in mind that Ak Bars plays well defensively so Garipov needs to eliminate his mistakes. I think he can do that. Another aspect is the skill that Sergei Mozyakin and Danis Zaripov bring to the table. They can be a huge problem for Garipov. It’s difficult to say anything about Stanislav Galimov. He plays rarely so it’s difficult to evaluate him. I think he has the necessary experience to step into the game if needed.”

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