Before the start of this season, only the lazy did not predict the failure of the Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo, which had a sensational performance last year. They say there will be a “second season” effect. Igor Nikolaevich Larionov, without his assistant, and also the main group of experts in the person of Andrei Kozyrev (who left for a promotion at Severstal), will not be able to do anything with the young team. The offensive fervor and inclination towards quick dribbling will be replaced by a depressive style, with attempts to remain among the coveted eight of the KHL.
The start of the 2023-2024 regular championship showed that it was not that the car manufacturers remained at the same level, but that, having strengthened last year, they had taken a notable step forward. The philosophy of the game has not changed and, in order to achieve new goals, Larionov continues (and this is not an experiment) to cope with a selection of hockey players that even the most serious hockey specialists would not consider average.
If you pay attention to those who started the season in the Torpedo jersey, you can see that in every line and combination of players on the ice there are very young people. Sometimes these are born mask makers who are not even 18 years old. For example, the great defender Anton Silaev, who scores points in every game of the season, recently celebrated his seventeenth birthday. The club’s other main defenders, Kirill Steklov, Bogdan Konyushkov and Arseniy Varlakov, are barely in their twenties. It turns out that half of the team’s main defensive line are completely youth players, whom Larionov is used to fully trusting since he trained in the youth team.
Larionov’s chicks inflicted the first defeat on the SKA. Rotenberg was beside himself
The offensive line is also biased towards hockey players who are not the most famous on the market, but who have already shown themselves desperately since last season. The agile Vasily Atanasov is now receiving a standing ovation for his actions on the ice. And it’s not in vain that this young talent is the top scorer in the KHL. Those masterpieces of technical equipment that Vasily shows in each game cannot be repeated even by experienced masters. And the way Atanasov recently stripped the defense of the formidable SKA will in the future be included among the best KHL highlights in the entire history of the tournament.
Last year’s team leaders, who are being discovered step by step by Igor Larionov’s headquarters, are not far behind coach Vasily. Sergei Goncharuk and Vladislav Firstov are clearly progressing, already a headache for the defense of any club in the league. But the most surprising thing is the progress of Larionov Jr. Igor Igorevich looks so monumental in the role of team leader, as if he had long ago become the mentor of his teammates.
Together with the brilliant goalkeeper Kulbakov, who, given the Torpedo team’s constant focus on attack, should literally be a wall, this fusion of youth and experience gives an incredible result. And if “Torpedo” at some point does not fall into a hole functional or otherwise, then it will be able to aim for something more serious than the second round of the Gagarin Cup playoffs last year. It’s too reckless to say that these guys will win the Gagarin Cup, but the fact that they can win the regular season is no longer a fantastic thing.