“We’ve lost nothing yet,” said HC MVD defenseman Maxim Solovyev after the Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, “I said the same after the heavy defeat in Yaroslavl and I’ll say it again now. Yes, our mistakes cost us this game, but on Friday we’ll have a new match.”

When the final siren sounded, the Moscow region club’s players headed straight for the changing room, leaving only Matt Ellison to take the rap for them all. The players’ actions are perfectly understandable; this was the first time in these play-offs they had failed to score.
“You think this is easy?” said an astonished Evgeny Fedorov. “Lokomotiv changed their tactics. They take advantage of our mistakes, and then they shut the game down. And you just try breaking through them. We need to change our tactics as well.”

This time Oleg Znarok had more to say than usual, and he praised his men:
“Our movement was as good as Lokomotiv’s, but first we went and gave them an early goal with a basic mistake, and then we couldn’t quite hold out when we were playing 3 on 5. After that, it was very difficult, all the more so because our opponents switched to plan B.”

The Yaroslavl men, to their credit, were not going to let their second successive convincing victory go to their heads.

“Alexei Mikhnov says that before the Game 4 you all felt as if you’d broken free of your chains. Did you feel the same?” the journalists asked Alexander Galimov, who scored the killer goal.
“Yes, that’s what it’s like. I can’t explain it, but we’re all feeling a lot better.”

“Would it be fair to say Lokomotiv now have a psychological advantage?”
”Whoa, guys! The questions you give me! We have another match ahead of us.”

Petr Vorobiev unexpectedly told at the press conference that his team lost the second period. Surely he meant to say he thought his team simply lost the initiative.

“We’re slowly finding ourselves, finding our game,” said defenseman Alexander Guskov, “Our play is getting better, but no way am I going to claim we already have one foot in the final. You just can’t say that in the play-offs. You can only say something when the series is over.”

Meanwhile the Balashikha players will be trying to work out a way to strike back at their opponents in the next match.

“The biggest factor was that they just didn’t allow us to shoot,” explained defenseman Pavel Trakhanov, “Did you see how many shots we had at the start of the first period? That’s just it. And we all know that with Gelashvili you need to bombard him with shots. This is exactly where we need to do more.”

“There’s a feeling you are not as fresh as you should be.”
“I agree, we do have that problem. But we need to gather ourselves for a decisive final push.”

“But you understand, don’t you, that even if you lose, no one will condemn you. It will still be counted as a successful season, won’t it?”
“No, no, let’s not have any talk about that. We are still in the play-offs, still very much alive. And we need to win the next match to take the series back to our place.”

Some merely hope to force the series back to Balashikha, but Maxim Velikov is sure of it:
“We’ve already played well enough in the first games against Lokomotiv, so why shouldn’t we repeat those successes?”

Alexei Shevchenko

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