Nichushkin repeated the club record by scoring four goals in the Stanley Cup Final series. /AP
What does not change is that for the seventh consecutive year, among the winners, there was once again a place for a Russian. This time it was Valery Nichushkin, one of the main architects of the Colorado’s success. In the final series, he scored four goals, repeating the club record. By the way, Valera could have missed the sixth game due to a bruised ankle, which the hockey player showed after the game. But Nichushkin spent most of his time on the ice among the Colorado forwards, leaving the arena in a cart when all the ceremonies were over.
His compatriots from “Tampa” Andrei Vasilevsky, Mikhail Sergachev, Nikita Kucherov also gave themselves completely to the game, but so far they remain “only” two-time winners of the Stanley Cup. Colorado also won the trophy 20 years after the previous success. Andrey Nikolishin, the world champion, bronze medalist of the 2002 Olympic Games, spoke about the regularity of this triumph and Nichushkin’s role in it, especially for RG.
Colorado won the Stanley Cup. In business?
Andrei Nikolishin: Probably, but what do you think? For me it’s fine. I immediately called Colorado the favorite.
It is believed that without a good goalkeeper it is impossible to win the trophy. But Colorado goalie Darcy Kumper has a significantly lower save percentage than Stanley Cup-winning goaltenders in recent years…
Andrei Nikolishin: There are exceptions. Go a little to the other side. If a team wins in this style and with a goalkeeper who has a lower percentage than the others, then that team has other strengths. The team is so crazy that the role of the goalkeeper is not as great as in the same “Tampa”. There Vasilevsky’s role is much greater.
Valera Nichushkin doesn’t have as many points as the Colorado leaders, but he got almost the majority of the playing time. Why is it so important to the team?
Andrey Nikolishin: You say, discrete statistics. Do you have any idea what it means to score 15 points in the playoffs? He scores nine goals in the playoffs. Did many make it? Let’s do it. Here you are driving. What is more important to you: the steering wheel, the steering wheel, the engine, the armrest? All is important. It’s the same in hockey. Each person has his own role, each one is important in his own way. If he eliminates Nichushkin, there will be no second link, there will be no pressure. If he takes out McKinnon (the Colorado leader. – Approx. “RG”), there will be no pressure for speed and power. So when you say that Nichushkin didn’t score as much as MacKinnon… yes, Valera scored more than expected of him.
Andrei Nikolishin: Valery Nichushkin is the main link in Colorado and won this Cup for real
Can Nichushkin be called a role model? A couple of years ago, he had a 91-game scoreless streak. Everyone laughed at him…
Andrei Nikolishin: I think that any player who plays in the NHL is an example to follow. Valerka is my compatriot from Chelyabinsk, he had a difficult career, there were ups and downs. He got into the first team at a pretty young age, he went to the NHL, where he looked pretty faded, then to the Olympics… There were a lot of times in his career. But he achieved the goal he dreamed of. I am very happy and happy for him. Such victories do not come easily. Now, when the “Colorado” was celebrating a victory on the ice, in the end the guys from the rotation came to hold the Cup. So Nichushkin is not a rotation man. He is the main link, an important component of the team. Valera really won this Cup.
Did you think Nichushkin would get over that crisis?
Andrei Nikolishin: This is part of the life of any professional athlete. I don’t know of one that hasn’t had recessions and hasn’t been criticized. This is normal. Another thing is how to relate to this criticism, what can be learned from it. He did not score and did not score. It is good that Nichushkin did it, that there are people who believed in him, who gave him the opportunity to prove himself. After all, nobody disputes Valera’s potential. He has strengths and weaknesses. It was just that the strong had to be multiplied.
What was missing, “Tampa”? And how would you rate the performance of your Russian leaders?
Andrei Nikolishin: I think Tampa should be given credit. Despite injuries, and the team had many, they made it to the final. But they just didn’t have enough strength, freshness, bank length. Andryukha Vasilevskiy shot the best he could, but how many chances did Nikita Kucherov create? There are no questions for them at all. They are handsome, the team is a dynasty, I think.
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