RED DEER - Michael Zislis of Sport-Express.ru talked to the Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov who is the Captain of Russian junior national team. Here are some excerpts...
On the forthcoming IIHF world junior hockey tournament you will be one of the main stars. At the time of Ovechkin and Malkin Canadians tried to rough them up, play very physical against them. Now they will surely do the same to you. Are you ready?Source: http://hockey.sport-express.ru/reviews/18639/
It's a good thing if they start chasing me, because then the guys will have more open ice. I'll get up there in the corner and wait until someone runs at me (smiles). On the contrary, I find it is easier to play when someone wants to hit or hook you. So much more interesting.
It's less than a week before the start of the tournament, what are you thinking about the most now?
Everyone is looking forward to the tournament and to the first official game. I can tell you briefly about our team, it is very good and ready to battle. It has a lot of pretty good players, so we all should be fine. We'll be playing team hockey with emphasis on defense. Everybody must work hard back there, only through this we can get some results.
In Russia, however, many have criticized Zinetula Bilyaletdinov for the play of the national team, accusing him of being too cautious ...
(Interrupting) These people don't understand hockey! Now the whole world is playing from defense: the better you play defensively, the more chances to win. The defense is everything. If you run 'n' gun, other team will score a bag of pucks on you. The skill level of players on many teams is about the same. Anyone can deal with one or even two opponents. Therefore everybody must work hard defensively.
Do you play a similar style with Tractor as with your junior team?
Yes, eventually you realize that the better you play defensively, the more chances you have to score. If there are less turnovers, counter attacks, it is a lot easier for your goalkeeper and your defenders. This is another important point. At the same time you must be able to use your scoring chance as effective as possible and play competently on power play. Then we can count on the overall success.
But it is believed that ice hockey at the junior level is about offense. Is it not so?
It's all true, but the one who will be the first to understand how important is to use defense first approach, will find success in offense. Now the main task is not to let goals in our net.