With the KHL quarterfinals well underway, the HockeyWriters have addressed Oleg Mosalyov, twice best KHL-TV anchorman, for comment and analysis of the regular season and the finals. THW: Let’s speak about the regular season first, what was surprising and memorable about it? Have there been pleasant surprises? What about disappointments?
OM: I have to say that the level of the game in the KHL grows from year to year! The number of games with little to no meaning for the teams’ standings in the table is becoming smaller. The average level of foreign players is growing, too. Many of the regular season games are as intensive as the play-off games (and once all of the games have this level of intensity we will be as good as the NHL).
An undoubtedly vivid event was the debut of “Admiral” from Vladivostok! The team is perfectly balanced, it has proved its ability to play consistently from game to game and showed how good results can be achieved with the right management. “Avtomobilist” from Yekaterinburg follows the same strategy.
As for the disappointments, “Traktor” and “Avangard” need to be mentioned. Speaking about the clubs’ personnel, they could definitely go as far as the quarterfinals, but failed pre-season preparations, chaos inside the team’s staffing policy and somewhat weak coaching prevented them from playing on the level they could have achieved.
THW: The 1/8 finals are over now: have there been fascinating series? And boring ones?
OM: All of the series in the 1/8 finals have been interesting, even those where the end result was 4:0. But I would especially point out Dinamo vs. Lokomotiv in the West and Sibir vs. AK BARS in the East. The teams, which had been considered underdogs, have managed to surprise their competitors with mobility, strong orientation towards the goal, and as a result the better placed teams failed to face the reality. The result is understandable: Sibir and Loko carry on!
THW: What is the reason for the poor result of “Dinamo” Moscow, the current Gagarin Cup holder, in the 1/8 finals?
OM: Lokomotiv was a little bit better in all the aspects of the game. Sanford has definitely won these series against Yeremenko. And speaking about play-offs a goalkeeper is much more than half a team. With King’s coming to Loko the team started to feel itself freer on the rink, and this is what the team previously lacked. Vorobyov’s contribution to the team’s success is tremendous – excellent defense and, what is being more and more obvious now, perfect physical condition of the players!!!
THW: What are your forecasts for the quarterfinals? Please, give short explanations behind them.
OM: I am writing when the first two games of the quarterfinals are already over, but I think that Lokomotiv will face Lev in the West and in the East Mettalurg will play against Barys. Well, I have elaborated on Loko already. Lev currently seems to be a team with no evident weaknesses and it shall overcome Donbass, which unluckily is engrossed in political affairs. No one is able to stop Magnitogorsk with their teeth grinding offensive trio, so even the disciplined Sibir will not be able to stand firm. The same refers to Barys, although the chances here would go as far as 50/50.
THW: Will there be fights in the play-offs: what is to expect and from who?
OM: There will be fights, as the emotions are getting heated and the fights are to be expected in any game!
THW: What about the attendance of the arenas: during the regular season? During the 1/8 finals? What is your forecast in this respect for the quarter- and semifinals, and up to the finals?
OM: Most of the arenas were filled 100% during the regular season, but Ufa and Kazan were unpleasant surprises with 3-4 thousands attending the games. But in the play-offs things are back to normal: there is no place to sneeze!
THW: Have the new stars appeared in the 2013-14 season?
OM: Plotnikov from Lokomotiv is very good, Sigarev is starting strong in SKA, and, of course, the goalies Vasilevskiy from Salavat and Ivannikov from Admiral have to be mentioned. They are young guys, who have a terrific season behind them having become their teams’ number ones!!!
THW: What was the influence of national teams’ players participating in the Olympics upon the results of their KHL teams?
OM: Generally speaking, KHL carries on with preparing good personnel for our competitors, as many members of the leading European national teams play with the KHL. But speaking about the results, the top scores in most of the teams come from abroad!
THW: Thank you very much, Oleg Mosalyov.
OM: You are welcome.