KHL Opening Game SKA vs CSKA Preview - 21 August 2017

SKA St. Petersburg host CSKA Moscow in the battle of the giants

Arguably two of the best teams in KHL, SKA from St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow open the KHL season tonight at SKA’s Ice Palace.

SKA has taken the Gagarin Cup twice in three years and is once again the biggest favorite to capture the title. With a team full of international star players, nothing else but a championship will do. SKA lost two important forwards to NHL during the summer: Evgeni Dadonov went to Florida and Vadim Schipachyov to Las Vegas. Even with Sergei Kalinin returning from Toronto and Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk and Nikita Gusev leading the line, SKA’s unstoppable offense is one click less dangerous this time around. The defense, however, is still the best in the league and addition of David Rundblad only added depth to an international level lineup.

CSKA impressed last regular season, but was upended by Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the conference semi-finals. After the disappointment the team has underwent some drastic changes, but the quality is still there – CSKA managed to lure back several big names from the NHL organizations, such as Roman Lyubimov, Nikita Nesterov, Mikhail Grigorenko and Alexei Marchenko. How will the team gel together to start the season is still under debate, even if the friendlies have been encouraging with 8 wins in 8 games.

In Accuscore’s simulations, reigning champions SKA are the clear favorites. After 10 000 simulations, SKA has won 63.6% of the games, while CSKA surprises with 36.4% likelihood. Considering the firepower both teams possess, the game is likely to be rather low scoring with neither of the goalkeepers allowing more than 3.00 goals. The hosts score on average 3.00 goals and the visitors only 2.22, adding up to 5.22 goals on average.

 

SKA St. Petersburg

CSKA Moscow

Accuscore

63.60% | 1.57 | -175

36.40% | 2.75 | +175

Odds  

54.64% | 1.83 | -120

47.62% | 2.10 | +110

Picks

SKA St. Petersburg to win (incl. overtime/shootout) with odds of 1.83 | -120

Over 5.0 goals with odds of 1.95 | -105