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Author: Dinara Kafiskina (Ves Hokkei and Football)
Translated By: Sergei Chveitser
Date: 03/07/2006
Evgeni Malkin: I cannot forgive myself for that match penalty against Lecavalier

2006 IIHF Winter Olympics

Evgeny Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins NHL) skating for Team Russia at the U20 World Junior Championships in Vancouver, Canada.
Evgeni Malkin's Olympics debut was nothing short of brilliant. He was one of the leaders and key players for team Russia (and this is according to his coaches and teammates) while being the youngest player in the tournament! History does not take ifs and buts into consideration so we will never find out how things would go for us in the semi finals against Finland had Malkin been in the game instead of the press box. Evgeni himself regrets only one thing, that it turned out with Lecavalier the way it has...

Evgeni, this is the first Olympics of your life, what are your thoughts?
E. Malkin: Everything was great and I liked everything. We had a good group of guys and I think we played respectably. This tournament also gave me a lot of experience obviously.

How comfortable did you feel around more experienced players, NHLers, who have spent many years overseas and with the national team?
E. Malkin: The guys were giving me some tips and always helped out. It felt comfortable with them. Really, I was nervous in every game, but this is probably normal. I was probably nervous the most before the first game, but then everything went in it's place and it was fine. I went out on the ice and told myself that I'm the same player as them and am not inferior to them. This helped me do what I'm capable of.

Which game was the most memorable to you?
E. Malkin: The game against Canada of course! At first it was a very difficult game and a lot of nerves were involved. After the first 2 periods it was still 0:0 and besides, this was the quarter finals so you win or you go home. This was the tensest game.

Could it be that in the game against Canada, our team gave everything it had, burned out and there was no will or energy left after the quarter finals?
E. Malkin: You know, a lot of factors and reasons can be discussed now. I don't know. I didn't play in the game against Finland so I can't say whether we burned out or not. This can only be evaluated individually, when you yourself come out for the game. Quarter final against Canada was not what we wanted at all.

?!
E. Malkin: If we met them in the finals, it would've been much better, but this is the Olympics and you cannot choose your opponent.

Which game disappointed you the most?
E. Malkin: For me personally, it was the last game against the Czechs but in general it's the one against Finland, where I didn't play. (sighs)

Still can't forgive yourself for that match penalty?
E. Malkin: Yes, definitely. In the game against Canada I really did kick Lecavalier and got a match penalty for it. I let the team down, unfortunately. I feel bad for the team too after their loss in the semi finals.

What was the team missing to at least capture the bronze medal?
E. Malkin: I don't even know what to say. I think the guys gave everything they had. With the Czechs, I think we just were unlucky. Their goalie played a little bit better and we hit the post a lot of times. We were just unlucky. With the Finns, I think the guys were overly nervous. It was a very important game after all because if you win, you are in the finals. I don't know, maybe somewhere we didn't follow the coach's orders.

Was there any opposition that surprised you? In other words, you expected one thing and then saw something totally different...
E. Malkin: Probably Sweden. They surprised with the way they played. They have a good team but they improved with every game and looked very confident in the semi finals against Czech Republic. They played, played and got to the finals in their top form.

Who did you expect would be the champion? Alexander Ovechkin for example, didn't think the Swedes would win the Olympics...
E: Malkin: I was surprised too. Canada and the US were both very good teams, but these tournaments really don't have any favourites as there are 5-6 teams every one of which can be the champion under certain circumstances. The Swedes probably showed the most disciplined hockey and that is why they became the champions. Believe me, our team prepared very well for every game and showed respectable hockey. If not for these semi finals and the bronze medal game... (Pause) We probably got too nervous and the responsibility was too much pressure for us.

Is it possible that you underestimated the opponent after beating Canada?
E. Malkin: We underestimated the Kazakhs, but then were fully ready against Latvia. We knew that they are playing well and capitalized on a lot of chances. When you are in the semi finals though, and are against a team that has yet to lose a game, believe me, there is no place to underestimate your opponent.

Are you satisfied with your production in Turin?
E. Malkin: Again, I don't know what to say. I helped the team as best I could. Of course I wanted to be as useful as possible, but whatever happened, happened.

When you didn't play against Finland, some noted that you are exactly what the team needed.
E. Malkin: I heard about this. It's hard to judge, but with me, my line would probably have played better than without me.

What can you say about the Superleague players at the NHL-filled Olympics?
E. Malkin: Everybody worked hard and played up to their abilities. Maybe somebody did it better than others, I don't even know, let the coaches decide everything.

What line would you say was the most comfortable for you?
E. Malkin: We only spent one practice and a period with Ovechkin and Afinogenov, but with Sushinsky, also played at the Rosno Cup and we probably had the most chemistry which is why I felt the most comfortable with him.

What did the coaches say after the loss against the Czechs? How did Pavel Bure evaluate the team's play?
E. Malkin: What could they say? They thanked everyone for the work we did and noted that it's unfortunate how everything ended and that everybody worked hard. Of course we heard no words of praise.

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