EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
(3) Salavat Yulaev Ufa 4
(4) Metallurg Magnitogorsk 0
Salavat Yulaev lead the series 2-0
Game 2 of this series was the stuff of Metallurg’s worst nightmares, and one they will want to forget as swiftly as possible. Putting this game out of their minds, however, will not be easy. The deficit was already 2-0 a mere 10 minutes into the game, and for the remainder of the encounter Kari Heikkila’s team were not given even a glimmer of hope of mounting a comeback. After the game the Finn admitted: “Once again we started poorly, and then our opponents did not hand us any chance of success.”
“What happened to your team’s offense?”
“Very good question, and one we’re all trying to solve together. Obviously, the opposing defensemen did their job really well.”
The optimism the coach enjoyed after the opening game soon evaporated, and it was the same with his players. First to catch the eye was the freshness of one team and the clear fatigue of the other.
“Most probably it was our fresher legs which played the biggest role in today’s game,” suggested Salavat defenseman Andrei Kuteikin, scorer of one of the four goals. “We had more of a rest, while Magnitka spent heaps of energy in those battles with Avangard. We knew we had to start livelier, and get tighter on their defenders, who are still tired from the previous series. Last time they punished us three times when we were short-handed, so today we tried to pick up fewer penalties.”
“How do you see the games going in Magnitogorsk?"
“Metallurg won’t give up, and I can confidently say that in this series nothing is settled yet. In Magnitogorsk we could just as easily lose twice as win twice.”
Any intrigue had already been killed off by the halfway mark of today’s encounter, with Salavat Yulaev clearly the stronger side throughout the game.
“What happened to your team?” the press asked the visitors’ forward Sergei Fedorov.
“Nothing happened. Just an ordinary game. We made a lot more mistakes than our opponents did. The Ufa guys controlled the puck really well, and we were toothless in offense: the puck never stayed long in the opposition’s zone.”
“Will the games in Magnitogorsk be similar or entirely different?”
“I think we need to get our strength back and calmly play our own game, and demonstrate a higher tempo hockey to our opponents. And the main thing is to put some teeth in our offense, and threaten the opponent’s goal.”
“Do you have enough energy after those series against Yugra and Avangard?”
“I hope the team has enough. I definitely have. I’d even say I had trainloads of energy. I would hope it’s the same with all the guys, as the two games in Ufa shouldn’t have taken much out of us.”
Ufa head coach Vyacheslav Bykov was uncharacteristically cheerful and full of smiles after the game, and no wonder. “No doubt that today we played much better than in Game 1 and we deserved the victory.”
“Oleg Saprykin had an outstanding game today; however, he doesn’t give that kind of performance every day.”
“We expect hockey like that from him every game. Yes, he is always burning with desire, but it doesn’t always go his way, since his opponents don’t always allow him to show what he can do. In all our lines we have people like him, who can set the game alight, and create a dangerous chance.”
Andrei Lopata, Ufa