Fedorov Asks for Absolution

[Slava Malamud with Sport Express was able to catch up with Sergei Fedorov following his unforgettable unbelievable indescribable game-winning performance in game seven.]

Sergei, your goal carried your team into the second round of the playoffs, where you'll meet up against Pittsburgh. Does that team hold any special significance for you?

"Pittsburgh is a good team, they fought their way to the finals last year. We won't beat them playing the way we did against New York. When you play Pittsburgh you have to be extremely precise in your own zone, and can't allow any turnovers."

Now the Russian National Team is going to have to make do without the Capitals troika.

"Yeah, it looks that way. Well I wish the guys success and I hope that the coaches will make use of the experience we gained in Quebec. They know how to do it."

After your goal, Ovechkin charged you like a bull and threw himself on your shoulders. Did that scare you a little bit and couldn't you tell Alexander that, in the interest of his teammates' safety, he should tone down his expressions of joy?

"Yeah, he gave me a powerful embrace. I'm sure he thought that my back wasn't hurting but, in reality, it really was... But then Ovechkin lowered me down on the ice quite softly. I am very thankful to him for that."

Ted Leonsis said that he still remembers the game-winning goal you scored for Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals against Washington in 1998. Could you say that you've exonerated yourself to the owner?

"Sure, okay. I'll agree to that! I've talked about this with Ted and, to be honest, it was awkward for me. If people are still talking to this day about that goal, then I'm ready to offer up my goal today as absolution."

After missing out for several years you're now playing in the playoffs for the second year in a row. Are you swamped with emotions?

"Yeah, it's been a while since I've played for the cup. I didn't understand where I belonged, or what I should be doing, what my mission was. But now things are moving along on their own paths, and I feel fantastic. I'm even amazed myself, but the biggest test is still ahead of us."

A lot of people called you an old man and said that you were finished as a player. It seems like there's still a little something in the tank.

"There sure is." (smiling) "It was a usual charge into the zone, we were skating two-on-two, and I decided to shoot, since there hadn't been many shots in the game. It went into the near side upper corner."

"It's been against that same near side above the glove that you've been most successful in scoring against Lundqvist in this series. Were you considering that fact when you shot?

"No, I didn't think about it. It was just that they gave me a lot of room and I decided it would be a good thing to shoot. I knew that the defenseman was giving me the near corner. Henrik fell on his knees, and I shot up high. Basically it was your standard shot which you work on in practice. When you're lining up a shot and moving the stick from back to front, especially when you snap up the puck at the very end of the shot, the goalkeeper usually sits down."

In your younger days you were something of an Ovechkin for Detroit. But that Detroit team also had problems with winning in the playoffs. Have you shared your experiences with your teammates?

"Of course, I got the chance to say something to the guys on the bench during the games, especially game six in New York. It's a normal thing to share your experience, but only if you don't start saying things that a coach usually says. In that case you become just another coach, and I don't want that. Basically, I talk a little bit, especially with the Russian guys. I talked some with Varly. I tried to make him feel more comfortable. For a young goaltender, thrown into such a difficult situation, he was really calm. It's good to be young and not understand what's going on."

Sometimes in the playoffs a superstar has to change himself and assume a different role on the team. Is Ovechkin doing just that now?

"Today, for sure. In New York he played really well: he scored and made assists. It's plain to see that he gives it everything he's got. Sometimes maybe his emotions go a tad overboard. Right now, I'm sure he's in the dressing room bouncing off the walls. I would try to stay as far away from his as possible, since he's already laid me out on the ice once, and that's enough... I think he just wants to win, no matter how. In these games he'd drive himself through the boards if that's what it took to win. But usually he plays his own style of game. We try to give him the puck and clear a way for him. For instance, he loves to play one-on-one against a defenseman, and in these cases I lag behind and Victor Kozlov helps him on the front end."    

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