Friend of OFB Dmitry Chesnokov and his associate Dmitry Shumin chatted with Alex Semin, Sergei Fedorov, Sergei Gonchar, and Evgeni Malkin after Sunday’s Capitals-Penguins tilt; they were gracious enough to provide a translated transcript:
A couple of words about the game. In the second period you started to look a little tired. Were you tired as a team, or was it the Washington Capitals who are much stronger now?
I think it is all of this combined. We played three games in four days, and today the Capitals played really good and tight against us after a day off yesterday. We lost the second period, and it is just very difficult to come back from 5:2 down in the third.
What changed for you after the new coach came on board? The system? Maybe your role?
We still play the same. Of course there are minor changes, but it will take some time for me to describe them.
How did the return of Sergei Gonchar affect the team?
Of course, he is the best defenseman on our team. He is helping a lot in defense. Of course he probably hasn’t reach his optimal game, but I am sure he soon will, and we will start playing a lot better.
Do you think if he was with the team for the entire season the Penguins will be in the playoff zone?
Yes, of course. We’re like 25th in the league on power plays, and he is the key figure on special teams. Washington scored the first two goals against us on power plays, and that shows how important it is to score on power plays. But overall, Sergei plays great in defense.
Alex Ovechkin didn’t go after you as hard today. Does that mean that the feud is finally over?
Yes, thanks a lot to our mutual friends. Yes, everything is great, and we’re friends. Although I wouldn’t say he went after me as much even in the past.
How are you feeling? Are you 100% fit now? Or are you still working on improving?
Yes, I feel 100%. Although of course there are areas that I have to work on.
How do you feel about your playing time right now? Is it a bit too much considering you just came back from the injury?
I feel good about my playing time. Although I have to say that it is a bit unusual for me to play three games in four days. It’s never easy, especially after an injury.
Do you have any special feelings about playing in Washington after you spent so many years here as a player?
There was something the first year after I left. But now it’s just another ordinary game. I got used to it.
How difficult was it to play against Alex Ovechkin?
He is one of the best forwards in the league. Of course it is difficult to play against him.
You played well in the first period. But in the second the Penguins seemed to go flat.
Well, we are adopting a new system. If you look at Washington they have been playing their system for what? 60 games? And for us this was just our fourth game under the new coach. That’s why we made some mistakes. We have something to work on to make the playoffs.
You looked very good out there on the ice today.
Thank you. I hope this game will continue for me, if not better. I feel very good, but I looked at my statistics today and I only played 13 minutes. Maybe it was because we had a lot of penalties against us? But we did have a very good start, and the coach put our line to start for a few games now. I really like it because you feel very emotionally charged from the very start.
You once won the hardest shot competition at an All Star game. Today we witnessed that your shot is as hard as ever. Why don’t you shoot more?
I think it’s mostly because I get to pass to my lines mates. It is rare for me to be in such a great position [I was today]. But when I am and I get the puck you see what happens! I just don’t think it is a center’s responsibility to shoot a lot. A center’s responsibility is to feed the wingers. It just so happened today that I had a chance [to shoot].
The goal you scored turned out to be the game winner, you got the first star of the game. Are you enjoying it?
Of course it is nice. Even
though I no longer get 20-22 minutes per game and only get 13-15, I
still very much want to contribute to the team’s success.
Maybe the coach is saving you for the playoffs?
I don’t know, really. If it is the case, it’s great. There can never be too much strength. It will be very important in the future.
You haven’t played a lot today, only 15 minutes, but you have done a lot: 2 points, a plus 2 rating.
15 minutes? I usually play a lot more. But this is probably because we played a lot 4 on 4 and shorthanded. We scored two quick goals in the second period. I was lucky to strip the puck from the opposing team player and pass it to Sergei [Fedorov], he scored a nice goal. I should have scored more. I had a chance when I had an open net, but Brooks [Laich] scored, which is just as good for us. I had a lot of chances, but sometimes I was just unlucky.
Are you happy with your game today?
It’s just always very nice to play the Penguins, because they play an open game, open hockey. It’s great to play that kind of hockey. In the first period they were very active, but in the second period we shut them down.
Is it important to sweep the season series against the Penguins? It is very important for the Washington fans.
We go out and play hard against every opponent. As for the importance of the sweep? The most important thing is the playoffs at this point. It looks like we are going to make the postseason. We just have to go out and play our best.
What can you say about your two penalties today?
The first one… Who was it against? Who’s number 44? Orpik? He just skated up, held my stick with his crossed legs and fell down. The first time he did that I was given a penalty. But the second time he did that the referee noticed it and didn’t blow the whistle.
You had a run in with Orpik later in the game.
I was going towards the bench for a change, and he slashed me first. We pushed a little bit, but nothing serious. It’s just a game.
And then you exchanged some words when you were skating towards the penalty box.
It’s just a game talk, nothing else. Don’t even pay any attention to it.
All three stars of today’s game were Russian. Is this your way to celebrate the Army day [February 23rd is a holiday in Russia]?
It’s nice to have all Russians as stars of the game, especially when we are all from the same team.