March 11 was the last NHL game played before the league was suspended. Over on the west coast, the Ottawa Senators and Los Angeles Kings battled it out, unknowingly playing the final hockey game for the time being. The Kings would go on to defeat the Senators, 3-2, in regulation.
Since that final buzzer sounded, fans have been waiting for their favorite team to hit the ice once again. While the NHL may not return any time soon, although ideas of how to return are being formulated as we speak, what if I told you there is still hockey being played?
Russia has been a powerhouse in the sport for many years. Whether it’s at the international level or individual stars shining in the NHL, Russia has produced incredible hockey talents and moments. And during this time, they are also producing live hockey.
To sweeten the deal further, you can also bet on this live hockey. The KHL may have suspended operations but the Comet League and Liiga Pro are in full effect and your access to live hockey at this time, with some betting sites also offering odds on the games.
Russia has daily matches from the Comet Division and Liiga Pro, allowing both hockey fans and bettors to enjoy the sport we all love.
Russian hockey players have a history with the Buffalo Sabres as well. There have been several Russian hockey players that have donned the Sabres’ sweater and had success in Buffalo. We’ll take a look at some of the best Russian players to have a large impact on the Sabres.
Joining the Sabres as a 20-year-old in 1989, Mogilny showcased his talents as a rookie. In his first season with the club, he would tally 28 assists and 43 points in 65 games.
Mogilny would go on to be a consistent player in the organization. However, during the 1992-93 season, Mogilny popped off and made a name for himself in the NHL.
During that season, Mogilny managed to score career highs in goals, assists, and points. He would finish the year with 127 points and a 21.1 shot percentage. He also managed to score 11 game-winning goals, the most he would ever score in the regular season.
Mogilny ended his career just shy of 1,000 games played, finishing with 1,032 points.
Drafted in the third round (69th overall) by the Sabres, Afinogenov had a lengthy career in a Buffalo uniform. Spending nine seasons with the team, Afinogenov put up 334 points in 569 games.
The 2005-06 season saw career highs in assists (51) and points (73).
Afinogenov had many accomplishments on the international scene as well. He picked up multiple World Championship medals, World Junior Medals, and has been named an all-star in the KHL multiple times.
He didn’t tower over his opponents, but Zhitnik was known for throwing his weight around.
Zhitnik was a mainstay on the Sabres’ blueline for many years. Spending 10 seasons with the Sabres, he finished his career playing 712 of his 1085 games in a Sabres’ sweater.
In the 1998-99 season, he recorded the most goals by a defenseman in the playoffs (4) and most points by a defenseman in the playoffs with 15.
Zhitnik came over to Buffalo from Los Angeles and made an immediate impact once joining the club.
With 539 NHL games under his belt, Kalinin spent the majority of his career manning the blueline in Buffalo.
Kalinin was an excellent skater who threw his body around. His physical presence helped the Sabres during his career with the team.
The 2006-07 Sabres saw Kalinin have great success. In 82 regular-season games played, he picked up 29 points and finished the season +19. Kalinin would go on to play one more season with Buffalo before spending time with the Rangers and Coyotes.
Buffalo may not have the deepest connection to Russia through their history, but the players above certainly made an impact. Russia has gifted Buffalo with tremendous players and now the country is gifting hockey fans with ice hockey to watch and wager on.
Honorable mentions include Yuri Khmylev and Vyacheslav Kozlov.