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Author: Andrei Kuznetsov (Sport Express Newspaper)
Translated By: Eugene Belashchenko
Date: 02/27/2008
Semen Varlamov (Washington Capitals): Irgl shoots penalty shots the best

2008 Super League

Semen Varlamov accepting the MVP Award at the U18 Four Nations Tournament in Mytische Russia (Photo Source - Lokomotiv 2 Official Website/Yana Romanova)

Lokomotivís and Team Russiaís goalie Semen Varlamov (Washington Capitals) game the SportExpress correspondent an interview. The young goalie currently holds the best statistic in stopping penalty shots.†

You have a 100% success rate against penalty shots Ė 8 out of 8.† What is your secret?
S. Varlamov: The secret is my hard work during practices.†† Every time I spend additional time on this component of the game.†† Now, prior to the playoffs I will be paying it even more attention.

Does Lokomotivís goalie coach Jussi Parkulla have a special regiment to develop the game against penalty shots?

S. Varlamov: Of course, that is exactly what I am working on.†† I wonít divulge its secrets, but there are special exercises we do during each practice.

Do you watch videos of star goaltender Hasek?

S. Varlamov: No, I havenít seen such recordings once.†† We do everything ourselves with the goalie coach.

Do your teammates happily oblige in giving you penalty shot practice?

S. Varlamov: Yes, we practice after-game penalty shot series together.†† The coaching staff makes them work on their shooting.

Who from Lokomotiv is the best at it?

S. Varlamov: Zbinek Irgl.† Itís not accident that he does not miss during actual games (two winning goals in two series Ė author).† This forward shoots and does not leave a goalie a chance.†† I would least like to play against him and have him come out for a deciding penalty shot (laughing).

Which of the players from other Super League clubs can you name as experts at penalty shooting?

S. Varlamov: Currently in Irgl is the best in the entire league. Itís hard for me to talk about the other stars, as I have not met them face to face.†† The first line of Ak Bars is very dangerous with penalty shots, but it didnít get to that in games between our clubs.

From your words, it can be interpreted that you do not specifically study the style of penalty shooting of your most dangerous opponents?

S. Varlamov: No, I prefer to act in accordance to the situation.† I see how the player is moving around, analyze how he is skating, his stride.†† Only after that do I start to move myself.†† Itís much easier for me to play in the moment.

Do you follow your performance in this area?

S. Varlamov: Of coruse Ė individual statistics are very important to me. Although, my main motivation at the time is the overtime. When the overtime ends in a tie, we have a chance to take two points.†

What incentives do you get for doing well in penalty shots? Are there financial incentives?

S. Varlamov: Even if there were, I wouldnít talk about them (smiling).†† Regarding the coaches, they definitely single me out and congratulate me after games, asking me to continue in the same manner.†

When prior to the start of the season it became known that the league will implement penalty shots, how did you regard this development?

S. Varlamov: I believe that for us, the goalie, itís just another additional thing to be nervous about.†† From the perspective of a fan, of course, these series add more color to the games, making it into a better show.†† Although, looking at it from the net, itís much better when the result is decided during the regular time or overtime.†† The goalies spend a lot of nerves on the penalty shots.† It would be better without them.

From another perspective, the penalty shot series during the regular season are another chance to prepare for the playoffs.

S. Varlamov: I believe that I could prepare well for the playoffs during practice.†† For me, the only positive thing in regards to the penalty shots is to make the fans happy.

The work on penalty shots can be motivated with different additional incentives.†† Do you guys do that?

S. Varlamov: A lot of teams have similar bets.†† Usually, however, we play simply for fun.† Some skates sometimes bet on hockey sticks, scoring a penalty shot, a player leaves, but drops his stick on the ice.† The worst performer then goes around the ice and collects the sticks, taking them to the locker room.† However the unlucky ones usually get a few chances to score.

This season, as part of the NHL all-star game, there is a new competition of the most creative peantly shot.† Would you agree to play in a similar show?

S. Varlamov: Of course Ė itís a show.† Why not allow a couple of goals to be scored on me? The most important thing is to play well during official regular season games and then during the playoffs.†† Although in the NHL itís harder for the goalies than here.†† I constantly follow the recaps from that league Ė and the players shoot there better, and itís almost impossible to stop some of their shots.

Does Washington, which holds your rights, follow your success?

S. Varlamov: Yes, they are following me very closely.† We think here that no one in America need anything from here, but in actuality they gather the most detailed statistics on each player.†† I do not get phone calls from the club officials in the US, but regularly talk to Washingtonís scout who lives in Moscow.

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