ESPN360.com will broadcast the Kontinental Hockey League's (KHL) Gagarin Cup Eastern Conference Finals series between top-seeded Salavat Yulayev Ufa and defending Gagarin Cup champion, Ak Bars Kazan. Game 1 of the best-of-seven series will be Friday, April 2nd at 9:00 AM ET live on ESPN360.com, ESPN's 24/7 broadband sports network.
Salavat Yulayev, led by Russian national team coach Vyacheslav Bykov, is the reigning KHL regular season champion and winners of the Kontinent Cup. Salavat Yulayev players who might be familiar to North American hockey fans include the high-scoring duo of Alexander Radulov and Patrick Thoresen, as well as fellow forward Victor Kozlov and netminder Alexander Eremenko.
Ak Bars Kazan entered the Gagarin Cup playoffs as the third-seeded team in the Eastern Conference and have been able to pursue their dream of defending their title thanks largely to the play of Finnish goalie Petr Vehanen, who has posted a 1.29 GAA and .948 save percentage through the first two rounds, and a balanced scoring attack.
The winner of the Eastern Conference Finals will square off against the winner of the Western Conference Finals, featuring HC MVD and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, for the KHL's ultimate prize.
The Gagarin Cup, named for famed Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, features sixteen teams consisting of the top eight teams from the KHL's Eastern and Western Conferences.
The first round of the KHL's Gagarin Cup is best-of-five games, while all subsequent rounds, including the Gagarin Cup finals, featuring the Eastern Conference and Western Conference champions, are best-of-seven games.
So... the KHL can get on ESPN but the NHL can't? That'll get some tongues wagging...