After a close shootout victory against Salavat Yulaev Ufa on Wednesday, HC SLOVAN Bratislava have no let up in their Christmas schedule as they face Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk on Friday at 19:00.
Neftekhimik currently sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, but they have the potential to defeat even the best teams in the KHL. Through 34 matches they currently have 52 points, which leaves the nine points ahead of ninth placed Metallurg Novokuznetsk, meaning that Neftekhimik currently sit comfortably in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The head coach of Neftekhimik is Vladimir Golubovic, and his team has somewhat surprised this year, especially as their top scoring player is a defenceman. Renat Mamashev has 33 points in 34 games, netting seven times. The 29 year old defenceman is currently the top scoring defenceman in the KHL. The most productive attacker is Czech forward Petr Koukal, who has 28 points in 34 matches. Nine points behind is Yegor Milovzorov, and then third in the list of forwards is the first overall pick from the 2012 NHL Draft, and one of the best prospects in world hockey, Nail Yakupov. The team also features Slovak forward Martin Cibák, who has 11 points to his name. Throughout the season, Neftekhimik have rotated between their two netminders: Matt Dalton and Maxim Sokolov.
In the only meeting between the two sides so far this season, HC SLOVAN came away with the victory. It was a closely fought game which was 4:4 after regulation thanks to a late Milan Bartovič goal. Michel Miklik would go on to score the shootout winner and give HC SLOVAN two points from the game.
Last five games:
Dinamo Minsk – Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 3:1
Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk - Sibir Novosibirsk 2:0
Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk - Metallurg Novokuznetsk 4:3
Lokomotiv Jaroslavľ – Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 3:1
Atlant Mytishchi – Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 3:1