In this translated interview, originally appearing on the popular Russian website Sovsport.ru after the game between the Flyers and the Oilers on November 4th, Nail Yakupov declared to be more focused on playing defense and shared his view about Bryzgalov and Tarasenko.
– It looks like Edmonton has a lot of injured players right now.
– Well, it happens. Sometimes you get hit by a puck. Other times an old injury returns back. You can’t avoid this, it’s a part of our job. Of course, you don’t want to lose players this way, but what can you do?
– You also had some injury in the past. How do you feel now?
– All is good.
– Against the Flyers you blocked some good pucks, after some strong shots. Are you still alive?
– Yes, I am (laughs). Sometimes it happens, the puck hits you very hard.
– Do you take example from defenseman when you block shots?
– Well, what should I do, let the puck go? Forwards have to block shooting lines. I don’t overly like taking a puck on me, however. You should play the correct position so to avoid this kind of things.
– You said you were tired about the critics on your defensive play. However, tonight you played hard on defense and your coach appreciated it during the press-conference. You said yourself that you’re playing stronger and better. What did it change?
– This is my third season in the NHL. I grow up. And I practiced very hard this summer. I watched many videos and discussed them with the coaches. You can’t avoid playing hard on defense. If you play well there, you will get more chances going forward. Of course I don’t want to spend too much time playing defense, but for this you need to play well in the offensive zone. You need to be a universal forward and work at both ends of the rink, not only shoot the puck on the powerplay. You need to help your team everywhere. I try to do everything that’s up to me.
– Is it hard to psychologically recover when you and your whole team don’t play well?
– Sometimes it’s very hard, even unpleasant. You want to win, just like every other team. Believe me, no one wants to get frustrated on the airplane and wait till the next game. But what can you do? You need to go on, play hard and learn. A good advice is to try and forget the bad games. You need to free up your mind and thing only about the positive things.
– Is it correct that good prospects always get to worst NHL teams, where they have to deal with many lost games? Is it psychologically hard, especially considering that all of this is at young age?
– Well, this is life (laughs). I can’t judge if this is correct or not. But I’m glad to play for the Oilers. I try to play as hard as possible, with all my passion. I’m doing all that I can. But I can’t really turn the destiny (smiles).
– You’re on your contract year, correct?
– Yes, correct.
– And is this influencing your play?
– No, of course. I am not thinking about it. Then we’ll see. You need to give the hundred percent each game and hope for the best.
– Last year your played with Ilya Bryzgalov. What were your impressions about him?
– A great team mate and a great fellow. He has a great family and I spent very good time with them. He’s a great goalie.
– Isn’t it a pity that the Oilers didn’t re-sign him?
– Well, it’s business. You can’t really use the word “pity”. We aren’t kids anymore, who get offended and angry. Maybe our team needed different players. But in general Bryzgalov gave our team a lot.
– Did you see Vladimir Tarasenko’s great goal against the Rangers?
– Of course. The whole internet went crazy about it. He is a very good player. I have no doubts, he’ll become one of the top players for the Blues.
A professional hockey writer and translator. Loves Russian culture, language, and hockey. Reachable on twitter @AlexSerenRosso