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Gagarin Cup: do we have an epic final coming up again?



We have some days to inhale and exhale until we get up on the track again and take on the last bit of the season, the playoffs, and the final of the Gagarin Cup.

Remember last year’s battle between CSKA and Magnitogorsk? It had everything a final should contain, a huge drama until the very end and a great steal by Magnitogorsk.

Last season was supposed to be CSKA’s, but the hockey gods wanted different.

If we mention CSKA and the western conference this season, they seemed to be as strong as last year, but the games demonstrated to us clearly that they were easily eliminated by Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.

Therefore, it was easy to imagine that Lokomotiv would have a chance against SKA Saint Petersburg in the western conference final, but we were so wrong.

In Loko’s case, I think all energy faded after the first game where and when they had their greatest chance to steal a game from SKA.

But, SKA turned that game during the last 5 minutes of the regular time and from there, there was no question at all who was going to win the series.

Similar occurred in the eastern conference playoffs. Magnitogorsk had some troubles with their opponents on the road to the Gagarin final, but nothing that they couldn’t overcome apparently.

The biggest hero so far for Magnitogorsk during these playoffs (besides Mozyakin) has been Danis Zaripov. His revival this season has been something extraordinary and stunning in any kind of way. Perhaps he has decided to make the last seasons of his career something to remember for a long, long time.

However, Jan Kovar has been, despite Zaripov’s fantastic playoffs so far, a bit stronger and is leading the scoring board. Even that is a stunning thing to think about. The king of goals himself, Mozyakin, is sneaking behind these two.

So, what do the hockey gods want this year?

First of all, it has to be emphasized that we have the absolutely the two best teams in the final this season, undoubtedly, as it is not a big surprise nor indeed a surprise at all that SKA and Magnitogorsk would reach the final.

To start out, I’d say though that Magnitogorsk has more players who have the better scoring ability even if it is a question of inches who is better than the other. But, Magnitogorsk has the biggest ace of them all in their hand, Mozyakin.

And, if he doesn’t score, Magnitogorsk have Zaripov, Kovar, Osala, Timkin and Chris Lee for example who are more than eager to enter the stage.

In that case, Magnitogorsk has a quite clear advantage in comparison to SKA Saint Petersburg. But, it’s a final, and therefore I do my best to keep every door open.

My question before the final games start next weekend: do we have an epic final coming up again?

The ode lives upon the ideal, the epic upon the grandiose, and the drama upon the real.

-Viktor Hugo


Arto Palovaara, Sunday Chronicler for Sports Rants Europe. Previously, he contributed for the betting company Betsafe, Svenska fans, Get real hockey and Ice nation UK. He is also an educated archaeologist and life coach who loves literature and history. Not to forget: probably he is the only sportswriter that plays the banjo.