2012 KHL schedule: Celebrate Boxing Day Russian-style

Martin Rose

Eight games are on the KHL schedule for Dec. 26.

It's Boxing Day in Canada, the home of hockey. Usually there would be NHL games on the schedule to celebrate, but yeah, not so much this year. It's rumored Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman's hearts shrank two sizes too small.

The first game of the day features the No. 2 seeds in both conferences as Avangard (74 PTS in 37 GP) of the east faces Lokomotiv (70 PTS in 36 GP) of the west. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl is led by Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov. In 14 games played, Varlamov is 8-2 with a 1.56 goals against and 95.2 save percentage. For Avangard Omsk, Sergei Kostitsyn of the Phoenix Coyotes is third on the team in points with 27 (9G, 18A). Columbus' Nikita Nikitin is second among defensemen in points at 12 (2G, 10A).

Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman leads Barys Astana against Atlant Mytishchi on Wednesday. Hedman is the top scoring defenseman for Barys with 20 points (1G, 19A). Boston goalie Anton Khudobin is the workhorse for Atlant. Khudobin has played in 25 games amassing a six win and 14 loss record.

Both Torpedo and Yugra are in ninth place in their respective leads. The only NHL'er on the roster is New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov playing for Torpedo. He hasn't had a good season so far. In eight games played, he has zero points and is a minus-2.

Avtomobilist saw the departure of Toronto Maple Leaf pretty boy Joffrey Lupul, who decided he wasn't as into playing in the KHL as he thought. The dude lives in Newport Beach, Calif., in the offseason. Newport to Russia? Not a hard choice. Anyway, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg faces off against the NHL player-less Amur. The two teams sit in 11th and 12th place in the conference.

Traktor is in fourth place and facing off against 10th place Metallurg Nk. Both teams are without NHL players.

Metallurg features the reigning NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin. In 32 games played for Metallurg Mg, the Pittsburgh Penguin has 17 goals and 32 points. The third-place team hits the ice against eighth-place Sibir.

The match between SKA St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow pits two of the NHL's biggest stars against each other. Ilya Kovalchuk leads SKA in points, goals and assists. The New Jersey Devil has 14G, 21A, 35 PTS. He is countered by Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk, who is second in scoring behind former Nashville Predator Alexander Radulov.

The final game is Dynamo Minsk against Slovan Bratislava. Washington Capitals teammates Alexander Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom sit first and second in scoring for Dynamo. Leading Slovan defensemen is Lubomir Visnovsky of the New York Islanders. In 27 GP, Lubo has 6G and 8A. Dynamo is the first-place team in the KHL with 80 points.

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