After enjoying an episode of MSG Vault (with some awesome film of the '52 Wings beating on the Blueshirts) I remembered reading that the KHL season opener was this morning and it was being streamed live. Ak Bars took on Lokomotiv in Kazan and won 3-2 in overtime.
The game-winner was scored on a four-on-three power play with a fantastic one-timer from the circle by former Penguin Alexsey Morozov. It was his second goal of the game and the first was out-frickin-rageous (it's the second goal on this Youtube). Canadians want to talk about how they will win the 2010 Olympics but the Russians have to be the team to beat. Even if the Bulin Wall doesn't stand on his head, that team will just have too much firepower to be denied. Morozov across from Kovalchuk? Geez, that's scary.
I have to admit that it was pretty nice to come in with no preconceived notions, no rooted interest as it allowed me to just enjoy the hockey. Aside from the pair by Morozov, there were great plays on both sides of the ice ... man am I ready for the puck to drop in the Garden. I wish I could go into further detail but I don't speak a word of Russian. I know I heard the announcers say "New York Rangers" at one point but have no idea of the context. It may have had something to do with Ak Bars' Jarkko Immonen (a former Blueshirt as you well recall) but I honestly have no idea.
I do know that it was fun to watch and hope that the KHL streams more games over the course of the season. Brendan McIntyre circulated an article he wrote around the web about how the North American taxes could chase players to the KHL. He and I then embarked on an e-mail debate as I don't see it happening, at least not without another NHL labour stoppage (or defection from the top Russian talent - which could happen apparently). Regardless, currently there is a growth limit to the KHL given the size of the arenas, the economy of Russia and the simple fact that they don't have the Stanley Cup, but their game is still definitely worth watching if you get a chance this season.