Elias Pettersson closes in on another record in Swedish League playoffs
The Elias Pettersson train keeps rolling along.
On Thursday, he added another goal and assist to his playoff totals as Vaxjo beat Skelleftea 4-0 in Game 2 of the Swedish Hockey League final.
The Lakers are now two games away from the championship and have outscored their opposition 11-0 in the series so far.
Petersson also continues to make his mark in the record books.
The record of 18 points was set by Axel Holmstrom in 15 games with Skelleftea in 2015. Chosen in the seventh round by Detroit in 2014, Holmstrom just completed his first full AHL season with Grand Rapids, where he had 7-19-26 in 66 games.
Unlike Pettersson, though, Holmstrom's playoff success three years ago came out of nowhere. He had 10-10-20 in 44 regular-season games with Skelleftea that year while Pettersson posted 24-32-56 in 44 games.
The next two games in the best-of-seven series go this weekend: Saturday in Skelleftea, then Sunday in Vaxjo. Can the Lakers pull off the sweep?
Over in the Finnish Liiga, the season-ending consolation game between Turku and Helsinki is in progress as I type this. In the third period, it's 2-2. Petrus Palmu has an assist on Turku's second goal, which came late in the second period, while Olli Juolevi's name does not appear in the boxscore.
It will likely be sometime next week before we hear if Juolevi is going to join Utica for the AHL playoffs, or possibly sign on with Finland for the World Championship.
The AHL playoffs began on Thursday night with two Western Conference games. Four more matches are on tap on Friday, then the Utica Comets and Toronto Marlies begin their best-of-five series on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT in Toronto.
After being injured in Utica's final regular-season game, Nikolay Goldobin participated in a full practice on Thursday. Word is that the team was being cautious with Goldobin, who suffered a hip pointer.
We've talked a lot about the young forwards that have been added to the Comets lineup, but the man with arguably the most to prove is goaltender Thatcher Demko.
This article offers a great scene-set for Demko and the rest of the team:
Interesting to note that Demko actually has a winning record against the favoured Marlies this year: 3-2-0 with a 2.37 goals-against average. Richard Bachman was 0-2-1 in his games against Toronto.
Over in Russia, the World U18 Championship got underway Thursday in Magnitogorsk. Games run in the morning here in North America, with some television coverage on the TSN family of networks.
Canada and Finland currently lead their respective brackets with 2-0-0-0 records, but the offensive star of the show so far has been 16-year-old Jack Hughes of Team USA, who has 3-3-6 in two games so far. Hughes turns 17 in May; he's already expected to be a top prospect for the 2019 draft.
Canada's star 16-year-old, Alexis Lafreniere has 2-1-3 so far.
With an October birthday, he's not draft eligible till 2020.
Draft-eligible players who have made early statistical impressions include winger Oliver Wahlstrom of the U.S. He's ranked seventh among North American skaters on the final NHL Central Scouting list and has 3-1-4 in two games so far. Oshawa Generals winger Serron Noel of Canada is right behind him. He's ranked 10th by Central Scouting and was named Canada's player of the game in Friday's 8-3 win over Belarus. In two games, he has 2-2-4.
The preliminary round of the 10-team tournament runs through Tuesday. Canada has a day off on Saturday and will face Switzerland on Sunday.
As for the NHL, the big news today is Bill Peters exercising his option to cut ties with the Carolina Hurricanes with one year left on his current contract at $1.6 million. It makes sense that he wouldn't do this unless he thought he had another job lined up—and that could very well be the opening that came up in Calgary when former Canucks assistant Glen Gulutzan and two of his assistants were dismissed on Tuesday.
After the Anaheim Ducks joined their SoCal brothers, the Kings, on the playoff sidelines on Wednesday, three more teams could be eliminated tonight. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators all have a chance to advance on home ice in Game 5 of their respective series.
I wonder if we'll see more coaches get cut loose after the end of the first round?