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- Forster / Plüss
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Ein desaströses Wochenende liegt hinter dem HC Ambri-Piotta. Bei einem Sieg gegen Fribourg hätte man die rote Laterne am Freitag wieder an die Drachen abgeben könen. Hingegen kassierte man sechs Powerplay-Tore und ging mit 0:7 unter. 24 Stunden später ging das letzte Derby zu Hause mit 0:5 verloren. Wenn nicht einmal in einem Derby ein Tor gelingt, muss man sich langsam aber sicher fragen: Wie weiter Ambrì? Die Lage wird prekär.

Unvorbereitet und improvisiert wie immer gibt's heute eine schweizerisch-finnische Koproduktion.
- Die ersten Kübel sind vergeben: CHL und Cup
- Torhüter-Rochaden in der NLA und Trainer-Rochaden in der NHL
- Fachkundige Analyse der aktuellen NLA-Tabelle

After a long and thorough search, Zug’s GM Reto Kläy has found his wished fifth import-player. Not only that. Together with the needed new center, a familiar face returns for the rest of the season.

By Yannick Ringger (photo: PHOTOPRESS / Urs Flüeler)

The two Finns Matti Järvinen and Jussi Markkanen give EVZ some added depth and insurance in case of injuries with regards to the postseason. Both have been playing for SaiPa in Lappeenranta, which is no contender in Finland’s Liiga this season and is renting some players to other teams in order to save costs.

Experienced emergency-goaltender

Markkanen, of course, is a well-known commodity in Zug. During his first tenure from 2009-2013, he led the Bulls to the semi-finals in every season . This spring, he does not have to fulfil this task. One might even argue that it is better for Zug’s chances if he does not have to suit up. Goalie Tobias Stephan, who is arguably in the midst of a career season, is the clear-cut number one. Markkanen would only play if Stephan got injured. The 41-year-old knows how to deal with such a situation. Back in 2006, after Dwayne Roloson got injured in the first game, Markkanen started in the other six games of the Stanley Cup finals for the Edmonton Oilers and won three of them, even earning a shutout in game six. Markkanen’s heroics were not enough, however, as the Carolina Hurricanes won game seven and hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.

Emergency for the worst-case

If Markkanen only serves as an emergency in case of injury, the expectations for Järvinen are very different. The 27-year-old, who scored nine goals and 20 assists in 45 games for SaiPa this season, should “improve the team”, as GM Kläy states clearly. The towering center (193 cm, 90 kg) will certainly get his chances in the remaining games of the regular season to earn a place or to at least put the hitherto import-quartet consisting of Holden, McIntyre, Immonen and Klingberg under a bit of added pressure to perform on the highest level.

That both of the players come from the same team is, in the words of Kläy, “accidental”. The connection SaiPa-Zug is, however, a known trajectory. Last summer, David McIntyre took this path, recommended by Jussi Markkanen. The goaltender had returned to his home club, which he, with others, owns after his tenure with the Bulls. The Canadian impressed Zug’s management in the encounter in the Champions Hockey League in August 2014. It was during these games that Järvinen caught the eye of Kläy.

Strong two-way center

Järvinen only established himself as an offensive force for SaiPa during this last season, in which he occasionally played on McIntyre’s left wing. For the better part of the last three seasons, he has played on his primary position down the middle, though. McIntyre speaks in glowing terms about his former and new teammates. “Both are great guys who put the team first. Matti is an effective and responsible two-way center and Jussi, as you know, is a world-class-goaltender.” Zug’s no 7 provided an even more detailed scouting report on Järvinen. “He reads the game well, is strong on the puck and in front of the net, but won’t wow you with his speed or special tricks.” Based on his report, the Finn, who has yet to play for the Finnish national team, seems to fit fairly well into the collection of Zug’s imports, who play a complete two-way game, and gets a chance to impress in a new league where he may improve his market value. His contract with SaiPa – as does the one with Zug - expires at the end of the season, whereas Markkanen will return to Lappeenranta, where he has one more year left.

For a more detailed report (in German) with additional quotes by GM Kläy and Goalie Stephan, head to Zentralplus.ch.

Despite last weekend’s two losses against Davos and Lugano respectively, EV Zug is still on pace for the best regular season since the championship season in 1998. In this edition of the blog we touch on certain factors that might explain Zug’s successful regular season.

Cold Facts

Grégory Beaud (Blick) et Jean-Frédéric Debétaz (Keystone-ATS) analysent le hockey suisse. Créé lors du mondial 2018, le podcast s’intéresse principalement aux romands.
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