Anton Volchenkov: my job is to help goalkeepers
Ottawa defender Anton Volchenkov has the face of a real hockey player: a huge black eye under his eye, a toothless smile demonstrates a wide range of work for a club dentist. The fact is that Volchenkov is the sole leader of the NHL in terms of the number of blocked shots.
– Anton, today you are the absolute leader in the NHL in terms of blocked shots. Who makes you lie down “under the bullets”?
– In principle, I throw myself under the washers voluntarily, like Alexander Matrosov on the embrasure. Of course, the coaches give instructions to block the throwing zone, but no one forces them to lie down under the washers, I go “under the bullets” myself. This is the job of a defender – helping the goalkeepers.
– Isn’t it scary to lie down under the throws?
– Scary, probably not the right word, but it hurts – that’s for sure. Hockey is a sport in which from childhood you get used to stress and pain. But, of course, it’s hard to get used to the pain that you feel after taking a strong throw, I’m not a masochist.
– Probably, you should be asked who is the owner of the strongest shot in the NHL. You have experienced them all for yourself …
– I will give the first place to Zdene Chara from Boston, who has just a crazy shot. In doing so, he makes great use of his long arms to give the puck maximum speed. Lesha Kovalev also shoots very hard. When you see him getting ready to shoot, you immediately figure out how to adjust to the puck in order to suffer less. In third place I will put the defender Sheldon Surey from Montreal.
– Recently you have become one of the best defenders of Ottawa …
– I don’t like it when they say about me that I play better than others. But the coach trusts me, which means I spend more and more time on the ice. This season, with our partner Chris Phillips, we play mainly against the first links of the opponents.
– Ottawa coach Brian Murray is traditionally skeptical of the Russians. How did you manage to achieve such success under his leadership?
– It is probably wrong to say that I have a special approach to him. After all, I have not been here for the first year. Murray knows my possibilities very well, and I have not let our mentor down yet.
– In the fall, Aleksey Kaigorodov tried to play in Ottawa. However, he never succeeded. Why do you think?
– I don’t know, maybe they really don’t like Russians here. In general, Lech was taken as a center forward in the third link to replace Brian Smolinski. However, here is a completely different hockey compared to Russia. The main scheme is here – throw and run. And Kaigorodov plays in a different way, he is a technical hockey player, he has a good stick. Maybe it was in the difference in styles that his problems were.
– The ice hockey world championship is approaching. Has anyone from the national team headquarters contacted you?
– Not. But if they invite me to the national team, then, naturally, I will go. However, it is not yet clear how the end of the season will turn out; we will probably play in the playoffs. So here not everything depends on me.