Sergey Gonchar: Malkin is very stable
This month’s poll is unique for two reasons. The first – for the first time in the competition, there was a dual power: Sergei Gonchar and Evgeny Malkin scored 18 points. These players play in the same club – “Pittsburgh”, live in the same house (with Gonchar), played together at the Turin Olympics …
Second, according to the decision of the Sovsport expert council, priority is given to Sergei Gonchar, who has more first places in the poll (5) than Malkin (3). Never before has a defender become a laureate of the month – before, only the forwards won. And now the Potter made a breakthrough.
DO NOT FOLLOW STATISTICS
– Sergei, congratulations! At the end of February, in the “Best Russian of the Month in the NHL” competition, you scored the same number of points as Malkin.
– Thank! The fact that Zhenya has become a leader does not surprise me at all. But how did I become a winner? Are you sure you are not mistaken in the numbers? Did I do something special in February? Of course, I try to score points consistently from the very beginning of the championship, but I don’t score much.
– Nevertheless, in 13 matches you earned 13 (3 + 10) points, that is, an average of one point per game. An excellent indicator for a defender!
– Yes? To be honest, I didn’t even pay attention to my statistics. And I can’t even understand why February turned out to be so successful for me.
– The closer the playoffs, the more successful Pittsburgh are. If you were told last season that the Penguins, then the clear underdogs in the league, would make their way to the top of the Eastern Conference, would you believe it?
– That year at this time, I probably would have already believed. It was then that we underwent major changes in the team – a new coach, Michelle Terrien, came and Pittsburgh immediately started playing differently. Although we still often gave in.
So when we started playing right away this season, it didn’t really surprise me. We went to this, worked seriously, and all the prerequisites for takeoff were there.
TAFGAY WILL HELP US
– February 27 in the NHL was the last date for exchanges. What was the mood at Pittsburgh?
– Normal – all the guys were preparing for the upcoming match against New Jersey according to their usual schedule. A little more, of course, they followed the news – there were a lot of rumors about who might go where. Surely one of the partners was worried, but there was no general nervousness in the team. And the match was serious, I didn’t want to be distracted.
– Did you have complete confidence that you would not be exchanged?
– Before that day comes, there are still conversations, there are some prerequisites and signs. But this year everything happened somehow calmly. Naturally, you can never be 100 percent sure. But I simply did not notice any hints of an exchange.
– Are you satisfied with the new acquisitions of Pittsburgh?
– And how! I think that both Gary Roberts and Georges Larac should only strengthen our team. Roberts has played many playoffs and won the Stanley Cup. He is a great leader in the dressing room and on the ice. The experience of this veteran cannot but help our young team. Roberts will be able to give some advice, help.
Larak is one of the strongest tough guys in the league. The very fact that he goes on the ice or even just is in the team makes the opponent think three times before provoking a fight. Our best young players will not be touched now. Still, Laraka in the NHL is afraid and respected.
– Do you think that Pittsburgh was lacking a security officer this season?
– Our team is very friendly, we always stand up for each other. But when a hockey player is one of the best in the league in his role, he will only help us.
Zhenya is VERY STABLE
– Pittsburgh scores a lot, but they also concede often, and this is not always the goalkeeper’s fault. Weren’t you surprised that the defense was not strengthened on the day of the exchanges?
– The general manager told us: “We really wanted to get a defender. But they asked too much for the one we wanted. Other players that interested us were either already exchanged or not available at all. ” I think these words are true. Although we did acquire one defensive player, he was not heard from the farm club in the NHL.
– In your opinion, which team was the best fortified before the deadline?
– I think that conclusions can only be drawn in two or three weeks. It often happens that a person played great in the old club, but did not find himself in the new team and was lost. Judging by the names alone, I think the Islanders were the best in the exchanges, which Ryan Smith received, surprising the rest of the league. After all, no one even imagined that he was available! “San Jose” strongly strengthened its position, having received Bill Guerin. So at first glance these two clubs stand out.
– In the end, I will ask you again about your competitor for the title of “Mr. February” … What unique qualities allow Zhenya Malkin to show such a stable game in his debut season in the NHL?
– Even if Zhenya does not perform well in every match, he definitely cannot be denied stability. A person has talent and excellent physical characteristics, good game thinking and vision of the site. This is only his first year, the beginning of a professional career in the NHL, and he is already showing remarkable results. I’m sure this guy will continue to play better and better.
– Do you think that Malkin is not threatened with “repeater syndrome”?
– Zhenya and I communicate every day, live together, train, play. I know what he is as a person. And I think Malkin will avoid a recession. On the contrary, next season he will only improve his results.