“OVECHKIN SAID NOT TO PICK PLAYOFF OPPONENTS”. EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALISTS’ COMMENTS

“OVECHKIN SAID NOT TO PICK PLAYOFF OPPONENTS”. EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALISTS’ COMMENTS
Kharlamov Cup
Interview
29.03.2019 в 19:00
“OVECHKIN SAID NOT TO PICK PLAYOFF OPPONENTS”. EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALISTS’ COMMENTS
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Eastern Conference quarterfinalists shared their thoughts on their respective series. Mamonty Yugry forward why Khanty-Mansiysk finished second consecutive series in Game 5 and joked that his team waits one famous reporter to apologize. Avto head-coach explained why the series against Tolpar was difficult and said that his team didn’t cherry-pick their opponents.

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“When Omskie Yastreby tied the series 2-2, you could feel the tension in the dressing-room,” says Mamonty Yugry forward Vladimir Gaideik. “Everybody was really pumped as we knew that the season was on the line. Our team has a solid experience with Game 5s. We’ve dealt with them in all recent years.

“Last game against Omsk was even, the score was 1-1 but we knew that our opponents use two defensive pairings. It was obvious they ran out of gas late in the series. We spent the entire third period in their zone. When we scored our second and third goals, they just fell apart.

“There was a lot of stuff about us on the Internet lately that we didn’t like. As such, reporter Alexei Shevchenko said that we’re a laughing stock in the playoffs and that Omsk would beat us easily. So if we’re going to win Kharlamov Cup this year, he’d have to come to our dressing-room and apologize (laughs).”

– Mamonty Yugry have guaranteed themselves at least bronze medals.
 I’m happy with bronze. It’s my first award in a long time, but we shouldn’t dwell on that. Everyone wants to battle for Kharlamov Cup.

– You’re going to face Loko Yaroslavl in the semis, who made it for the 3rd time in 4 years.
 Loko are reigning champs but it’s an advantage for us. They’re considered the favorites of the series and everybody expects them to win. I can tell you one thing – it’s not going to be easy for them.

– ‘Mammoths’ finished both series in 5 games. Loko are undefeated in 6 games. Is this going to be a factor?
– We worked hard in the pre-season. I’m not sure anybody worked as hard as us. So even after two 5-game series we don’t feel tired. It’s going to be different on emotional level. Loko are yet to lose a game this post-season, so they have an advantage emotion-wise. It’s important that we begin the series at home. We expect at least the rink to be at least 50 percent full. We do well on home ice in the playoffs.

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“I don’t think anyone on our team wants to dwell on the bronze,” says Avto head-coach Vitaly Solovyov. “We could finish on top of the conference, while we were just 4th a year ago. Our team improved a lot this season. Everyone can feel it and wants to go deeper.

“Tolpar series was the most difficult in my opinion. We know each other well. We’ve been rivals with Alik Gareyev for a long time. Of course, Snezhnye Barsy is also a strong team but we manage to find a key to them.

– Who did you want to win Game 5 – Mamonty Yugry or Omskie Yastreby?
 I didn’t wish for anything. Alex Ovechkin recently said that choosing a playoff opponent can backfire on you. I like that approach.

 What’s your take on SKA-1946?
– I know a few of their players well – Ivan Morozov and Danila Galenyuk to name a few. They have a very strong team. They deserved to win the regular season. I think it’s going to be an exciting series. We’re finally going to feel what it’s like to play against a Western Conference team.

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