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The 0-4 in the final is no reason for panic. Lokomotiv does not need a revolution

Date: July 18, 2024 Time: 04:53:36

Eight votes out of eight that were cast in favor of Lokomotiv as champion of the KHL is an incredible collective failure of the Championship’s hockey department. However, such unanimity did not come from nowhere: the Yaroslavl team played three rounds too impressively. For many, this monstrosity did not disappear even after 0-2 away from home. Although not a single team recovered from such a result in the final, in the “Championship” poll before the third match, 48% of fans still bet that Lokomotiv would become the champion, and it is unlikely that all of them would be from Yaroslavl. .

As a result, Lokomotiv not only lost 0:4, but also set an impressive anti-record, which is unlikely to be broken in the near future: in four matches the team scored only three times (two more goals were disallowed). It is quite possible that Maxim Shalunov’s injury in the first match affected the Yaroslavl team: therefore, Igor Nikitin was forced to disrupt the combinations he had made. The depth of the team, which did not stand out in Yaroslavl anyway, suffered greatly afterwards and the new combinations in the lower categories did not play.

And although Nikitin had few options in reserve, the coach supported Yaroslav Likhachev and at the press conference almost gave birth to the main meme of this final with the “bet on zero”. When Lokomotiv approached, the coach still put his chips on zero: already in the third match, the combination with Yaroslav was almost the most active for Loko, and in the fourth, Likhachev scored the only goal. Now we can ask ourselves the question: Was Yaroslav really not ready to have more playing minutes a little earlier?

For Nikitin, this is the third lost final out of four, and an interesting pattern can be noticed. In 2018, CSKA lost the decisive match with a clean sheet (0-1); In 2021, in the series against Avangard, in two games he did not score a goal, after the score became 2-2. There was no clean sheet here, but the biggest anti-record makes up for it. 36 hours after the end of the season, it is easy to show yourself as a prophet, but when Lokomotiv, after the first goal, quickly started playing to keep the score to a minimum, I immediately thought that nothing good would come of this. Of course, in such a “low-level” final, even one puck was enough to win, but keeping score in hockey for 50 minutes is useless and suicidal.

Igor Nikitin

Photo: Yaroslav Neelov, photo.khl.ru

Andrei Razin showed much greater tactical flexibility in this regard, although he had an even younger team and this was his first final. “Metallurg” during this final showed itself very different, both in defense and attack: “Lokomotiv” in the rival zone mainly showed its characteristic attack. Even though he looked furious and destructive, most of the time it looked like Magnitogorsk’s defenders knew how to read the movements Loko was making in the opposing zone and understood where the pass would go next and where the shot would come from. Lokomotiv proved too dominant at the decisive moment.

The offseason begins in a week, during which Lokomotiv will have to work hard. Most of this squad remains in Yaroslavl: according to Sport-Express, 18 Lokomotiv players currently occupy 600 million rubles below the ceiling. There are not many hockey players who enter the Yaroslavl market: Bocharov, who abandoned the candidacy, the legionnaire Gernat, whom the Club already wants to renew, the veterans Andronov and Averin, Shalunov, who did not live up to the expectations in Yaroslavl, and two OSA Polunin and Tesanov. For the remaining 300 million, you can find a backup for Isaev and still increase the depth.

After the introduction of the salary cap, Lokomotiv’s main transfer slogan was “From CSKA? Come to us!” Even before Nikitin arrived at the club, Marchenko and Shalunov boarded the train bound for Yaroslavl, and only then Andronov joined them. Loko, who could pay more to the NSA thanks to a high school quality, signed generous contracts, but the quality/price ratio was no longer so good. Now Yaroslavl, if you believe the rumors, is supposedly aiming for another champion of the Nikitin era in the person of Mikhail Grigorenko. Before that, Lokomotiv too. bet on the leaders of the champion Ak Bars; one year they played in Yaroslavl Atte Okhtamaa and Anton Lander All these steps cannot be considered illogical, but they seem like an attempt to purely mechanically transfer other people’s recipes for success.

The first final in 15 years is already a success, but before the introduction of the cap, Lokomotiv with its talent pool seemed to be the main beneficiary. The fact that the ending has finally been achieved is not manna from heaven, but a completely natural course of events. Now the Yaroslavl leadership needs logical measures to consolidate this success and not get trapped in the history of recent years. We have already written this in countless old articles about Loko, but it bears repeating: even after the first relegations in 2017 and 2021, it seemed that the team was literally half a step away from the championship, but six months later everything fell apart after the resignation of the coach.

Igor Nikitin is certainly not in danger of resigning and there is no need. But a team that plays this style needs a link with really skilled players who are allowed to play in the foreign zone as they want and know how. In CSKA 2019, this was the combination Kaprizov – Vey – Grigorenko, while Ak Bars had Azevedo – Lander – Sekach a year earlier. In this Lokomotiv, despite the scoring feats of Kayumov and Berezkin, there was no such dominant bond. Now it is quite possible that he will rally around Grigorenko and/or foreign players, whom Lokomotiv did not have in attack for two seasons.

Igor Nikitin and Igor Grigorenko at CSKA

Photo: RIA Novosti

The main step that Lokomotiv has taken this year is, without a doubt, psychology. Last year it looked like Yaroslavl would be stuck in the “perpetually promising” category for a long time, but the players have overcome the shorts mentality. Yes, he tactically missed the final, but that doesn’t mean Loko should cut his shoulder, destroy something and try to lick other people’s winning recipes. Everyone has their own path to victory and this summer Lokomotiv has yet to find a way to achieve it.

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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