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SKA - Spartak. Press-conference of game five

Roman RotenbergPress-conferencePlayoffsSpartakSKA - Spartak - 260322
HC SKA press-service

HC SKA head coach Roman Rotenberg:

- This was the most important game of the series for us. We have to give credit to Spartak, they created a lot of difficulties for us in this series. I am grateful to Spartak for the series, the opponents played really well. We followed the game plan and made changes to our approach. However, we will work on improving further. We will now prepare for the next round of the competition.

- Both teams focused on defence for the majority of this series. Will you compete in the same manner against CSKA Moscow?

- A solid defence is key in the playoffs. Ice hockey is a game of mistakes, and defence is a vital ingredient of success. You must be adaptable tactically in modern ice hockey. You have to change for every game. Spartak had analysed our tactics well, we had to regularly change our tactical approach. We will play on the front foot. If you look at the amount of chances we had in this series, then you can see that we could have scored a lot more goals. Furthermore, the fact that Spartak didn't play in the first round had a part to play, they analysed our tactics while we played against Dinamo Minsk. Our players had to be more creative. We are continuing to play in accordance with our same system as normal, and the same can be said for SKA-Neva and SKA-1946. This system brings us success, but it doesn't mean that we will always use the same approach. We will constantly search for the route to victory.

SKA - Spartak. Press-conference of game five

- What thoughts do you have before competing against Sergei Fyodorov's CSKA?

- Everyone knows who Sergei Fyodorov is, he has vast experience of ice hockey. For me, it will be a big honour to compete against such a strong coaching staff. Both SKA and CSKA have experienced coaches. We will prepare very seriously for the series, it's the flagship match-up of Russian ice hockey. Let the strongest team will win.

- It's not often when you see the score of 2:1 so often in one series.

- We had enough opportunities to score more goals. When playing against CSKA, we will try to take advantage of them more effectively. Nevertheless, if you are able to create so many chances, then it proves that your system is working. It's also important to remember that the key to success is having a solid defence.

- It is no secret that senior Russian national team head coach Alexei Zhamnov is one of Spartak's coaches. Did this make the series even more important for you?

- Their coaches had analysed each of our players in detail. They know a lot, and the fact that we worked together with the national team made this series even more interesting. We had to improve, make changes and introduce new aspects to our game. The job of a coach is to develop every day and come up with new ideas. What worked yesterday is not going to work today. There is no limit to perfection, we have conjure up new tactical ideas in order to surprise the opponents. Spartak surprised us in every match, they worked really hard. We had to overcome the challenges in order to prepare well for the next series.

- After losing the first match of this series, did you panic at all in the dressing room?

- You can't win without losing sometimes. There are a lot of examples of these situations arising in ice hockey. For example, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New York Islanders 8:1 last season before they subsequently played in a hard-fought series together. The main thing is to improve with every passing game and to find the key to victory. Ice hockey here is very compact, the ice size is 26x60 so you have to be well prepared physically, tactically and psychologically. I would like to thank our fans for their support, and to our guys for following our plan. I don't have any issues with our commitment.

- SKA's leading players improved after an initial slow start to the series. How did you wake them up?

- Spartak played in a very compact manner against our leaders. Our guys did a good job, though, just look at Andrei Kuzmenko's game-winner in the fourth match in Moscow. We had to find a way to break them down.

- You used five defensemen on the ice today.

- There are injuries which are playing their part. Maybe we will use eight defensemen in the next game, who knows what will happen.

- How would you summarise Leo Komarov's performance in the first line? And will Joonas Kemppainen return?

- We're waiting not only for Joonas, but also for our other players who will hopefully soon return. I can't reveal all of the details, because the season is continuing for us. Leo is coping with his role really well, the team is winning. Of course, there is always room for improvement, but Leo scored a vital goal for us in the second period in this game. He worked hard and blocked the goalkeeper's view.

- How pleased are you with the results of all of the SKA system teams?

- Yes, we're satisfied, but there's always room for improvement. We want victories from all teams of our system. We watched SKA-1946 play, who qualified for the semi-finals of the MHL. SKA-Neva will soon compete against Rubin Tyumen in the semi-final series of the VHL playoffs. We are in constant contact with all coaches of our system, we want to continue achieving victories.

- Do you want to try Matvei Michkov out in the senior playoffs?

- Matvei is in good form at the moment. I can't reveal all of the details however, as he had problems in the previous games. We can see that Matvei is progressing, he scored two fantastic goals today for SKA-1946. We can never rule anything out, any player - including Matvei - can play for our senior team.

HC Spartak Moscow head coach Boris Mironov:

- It was a good, tough series which ended for us today. I want to say this: we didn't lose out to the opponents in terms of character and desire, we weren't worse than them at all in this series. We only lost out in terms of taking advantage of our scoring opportunities. This will come with experience, our young players learned a lot. I can only say thank you to our players for fighting hard until the end, I am proud of them. We will look forward.

- How was this series for you personally? You hadn't competed in the playoffs as a senior head coach before.

- It was a huge experience which will help me in the future. I know that I have things which require improvement, some of my messages didn't get through to the players. Nonetheless, we were one united family. We battled hard.

- You automatically qualified for the second round as a consequence of Jokerit Helsinki dropping out of the competition. Would it have helped you had you played in the opening phase of the tournament?

- It would have helped us for sure. We had trained for two months, but playoff games are a completely different matter altogether. We would have liked to compete in more friendly matches ahead of the playoffs, but I still think that our guys played well in this series.

- At times, Spartak looked to be fresher than SKA. Did the long break help you physically?

- We trained in accordance with our plan during the Olympic break. As a result of Jokerit not competing in the playoffs, we had two extra weeks in which to train. Nothing can replace playoff games. Unfortunately, we couldn't even find teams to play in friendlies against us. We did compete against Khimik Voskresensk, but they aren't a team of the same level. We were 100% physically ready for this series, you're right that we were fresher at times. We lost out in terms of our ruthlessness in front of goal.

- After winning game one of the series by a score of 6:1, did you not feel euphoric?

- We were lucky in the first game, a couple of the goals happened by accident. When you beat a team like SKA by such a scoreline in the first game of a series, euphoria is natural. We told our guys to forget that match and focus on the upcoming games. Following that game, we expected SKA to play a lot better and with more aggressiveness, and that is what happened. Our task for the opening 10 minutes of matches was to not concede, SKA always like to start with speed and aggression. If you hang on during the early stages, you will have chances later on.

- In this game, you didn't concede in the first period and you managed to take the lead. What went wrong after that?

- A game lasts a minimum of 60 minutes. Do you think that we relaxed after scoring? That's not the case at all, we continued playing our brand of ice hockey. We made one mistake when entering the attacking zone, and the opponents punished us. Sport is unpredictable.

- Spartak would have played differently without Oscar Dansk and Jori Lehtera. How did you convince then to stay?

- Our management held a meeting with the players and gave them guarantees. The guys listened to them and understood the situation.

- Did Alexei Zhamnov participate in the coaching process for Spartak?

- I have known Alexei for a long time, we played for Winnipeg together. We are friends, we often speak about personal matters and not just ice hockey. He gave his opinion before this series started, that's all.

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