Continental Hockey League regular championship 2023/2024. The second match of the game day serves as a chance for one team to crash into the top-4 of the East, whilst the other is edging back into the play-off fights after a recent dropout. Traktor from Chelyabinsk will host Sibir from Novosibirsk.
How many times have you heard in my forecasts that Traktor is the sort of team that can play like a cup contender in one match, and like the last-place team in the league in the next? This has been the case for a few months now. Consider their last five matches for instance, with Traktor having three wins and two losses, clinching 70% of points up for grabs. You might think it's not too bad, however the opponents were surprisingly strong, although they all trailed Traktor in the league. Even those below Traktor posed a serious challenge, except for the last match against HC Sochi which they won easily, at least in the third period.
Currently, Traktor is seventh in the conference, having bagged 64 points in 54 games. These points were won thanks to 23 regular-time wins, six wins outside the main game and six losses with a consolation point. They lost the remaining 19 matches, gaining no additional points. Traktor excels in defence, placing third in the conference letting in 125 goals. As for goals scored, they just miss out a podium position, coming fourth with a tally of 145.
At some point, it seemed that the battle for the playoffs in the East was almost over, with Sibir’s rivals starting to lose while Sibir itself was winning. But then the KHL stepped in and took four points from Sibir for violating the regulations. No doubt you've heard about this more than once. After this decision, Sibir went on to lose 2:4 to Salavat Yulaev. Overall, in the last five matches, Sibir has only two wins, even losing to Admiral and Amur, teams that are lower in the standings. Currently, Sibir is tenth in the conference, having scored 51 points in 53 games.
Sibir earned these points thanks to 16 regular time wins, five victories outside main time, and nine losses, each with one point. The remaining 23 matches were defeats with no additional points. One of Sibir's problems is the attack, with only 118 goals, making them second last in the East. As for goals conceded, they fair a tad better letting in 142 goals, coming fourth from the bottom.
Traktor and Sibir have faced each other 55 times. Traktor has 33 wins compared to Sibir's 22. This season, all three matches went in Traktor's favour, with a 2:1 over-time victory, 5:4 in shootouts and a comfortable 3:0 win in regular time.
Here, I would definitely back Traktor for a win, as they are clearly in better form than Sibir at the moment, and have the home advantage too.
Again, if you're not confident in Traktor's victory in regular time, there's a solid option with ITO1 (2.5) for 1.78. Traktor has a strong attacking output, Sibir concedes a lot, so foreseeing three goals is a quite reasonable match outcome.