Astana (16:30 msk)
Astana (14:00 msk)
Emotionally it was tough, we had so many decisive games, where our backs were against the wall. Throughout the playoffs we had to overcome ourselves, as well as the opposition. There were so many things against us but all the guys did great, they showed their character. Throughout the playoffs, different guys showed up, produced their best game. We had each other’s backs.
In game seven, even when we were down, we didn’t give up. We knew we would get chances. This time, we were able to take them.
It’s nice to be the MVP, but lots of our guys deserved this prize after saving the team in different situations throughout the season. I couldn’t single out any one of our players. I think you give the award to anyone from CSKA and we’d all feel it was a fair choice. That’s why we won the cup, because we have many guys who gave their best in the playoffs. If it wasn’t working out for one player, somebody else stepped up. That was great.
We played 27 out of 28 possible playoff games, nobody has ever done that before. I’ve no energy left. But now we can relax. When we were up 3-1 in the final, there was no jubilation, just a sense that we still had to finish the job. In game six we went home to finish the series, CSKA has never won the cup in front of our fans. It didn’t happen, even though we played well. But that just gave us a bit more for the deciding game. We took the initiative, created a bunch of chances. Right after that game the guys said we would win the seventh if we played like that.
In the final we gave up an unbelievable goal right at the end of the first period. But all our guys are experienced, we took it calmly and in the second period the goals came – we tied it up, we got in front, it was great. It’s a cool feeling. I know how hard it is to play game seven in a final after we lost to Metallurg in 2016. I don’t think it’s an advantage to play at home, it’s extra pressure. When you play an ordinary game, you’re thinking about winning each battle, each shift. But when it’s for the cup, the cup is the only thing in your mind, it’s hard to concentrate.
My feelings about this win are much stronger than after my first Gagarin Cup in 2019. Back then we knew we would win, we have a team that could skate better than anyone. But this time, 27 games, game seven in the final, a really tough journey, a hard season. That’s why this cup means even more to me than the first.
There’s no need for mourning. I think the team played well, we good opportunities, showed our character, our game. There are always pluses and minuses but overall, the guys did well. Throughout the season they worked hard and did everything we asked of them.
In game seven we needed to score at the right time, and not allow goals at the other end. Unfortunately, we made a couple of mistakes which we shouldn’t have made. But it’s a final, these things happen.
I wouldn’t say that Fedorov surprises me [as a coach]. I can see how he works and he does a good job. It’s no accident that his team won the cup two seasons running, and played good hockey all season. I’ve only good things to say about him.
It’s too early to talk about continuing my career. I’d like to, but I’d also like to relax!
The guys went out, they believed, we got some results. I’m grateful to them. They got our supporters excited, they played with huge desire and enjoyment, I like to see that. It was no surprise for me that we got to the final. As a team, we played as well as we could and we won. But CSKA is a difficult opponent, we have to give their due, they played with dedication and it wasn’t easy to match them.
We were in a terrible situation during the season, we got to the final and only lost in game seven. Maybe we can say it was a good season, but it’s a bit painful to lose when we could have won.
CSKA can be beaten. It’s just that sometimes in game seven we didn’t quite play the game we needed. The second period got away from us, we weren’t aggressive enough and we gave up some bad goals. Both sides played decent hockey, attacking hockey, but they scored three and we only got two.
It was a great season from start to finish. The playoffs were terrific. In the first round, after two games, every series was tied at 1-1. That’s what we want to see – a more competitive league, more unpredictable games. In the final, both teams played some great hockey. CSKA won and set a record for the longest journey to the cup – 27 playoff games! The guys are tired, but they deserve the cup for their efforts.
Now we’re moving forward. Recently we agreed a strategy that should make our teams more evenly-matched. I hope that with our clubs we can move to even more exciting playoffs for the fans. This season’s playoffs set new attendance records. The fans came back to the arenas after the pandemic, they saw interesting hockey and supported their teams.