ZAGREB – Medveščak have returned from a three game road trip, where they have won two out of three, won five out of nine points and most importantly, made up some ground. Now, however, the plot thickens as other lower-tier teams, too, have made up grond. Places 8 to 14 in the Western Conference are a cluster, and it will be a survival of the fittest.
“Yeah, it’s tight.“ said Andrew Murray. “We’re just kind of trying to take these segments. These four games at home are big going into the All Star break. We’re eight points back now, if we can make up some ground, regroup in the All Star break, then go from there. Everybody’s positive right now, looking forward to the challenge“
“Yeah, absolutely.“ said Brandon Segal “Every game is huge, we need these points. It’s just about going out and getting these points each and every night“
The sense of urgency is rising.
“There’s a definite sense of urgency.“ said assistant coach, Alan Letang. “You’re trying to close nine or eleven points down in a matter of 14-15 games. It’s very possible if we’re playing the way we know we could play and the way we want to play. The boys are buying in and taking ownership in the locker room, and we’ve got a lot of character guys in there. They know what’s at stake, and they know what it takes to win in this league“
“Yeah, absolutely.“ said Segal. “Every game is huge, we need these points. It’s just about going out and getting these points each and every night“
However, alongside the sense of urgency, another thing that is rising is the spirit in the locker room.
“It was a big boost.“ said Murray. “That Slovan game, being down 4:0 and coming back, we got some momentum on the road and we were able to win two out of three. It’s a good road trip and we’ve set ourselves up in a good spot for four games at home“
“It’s huge.“ added Segal. “I mean, we’re trying to make a push here. No one wants to go home early. We have 14 games left to make it happen“
Medveščak are under the cloud of injury woes. Defenseman Mark Katic is recovering from a hernia surgery and is expected to be out for another ten days to two weeks, Krys Kolanos hasn’t played for a month due to a shoulder injury, Eric Beaudoin has been out for two games now and Mark Dekanich is suffering from knee issues. On a brighter side, Murray is feeling better after leaving the game in Podolsk injured and not playing in Yaroslav.
“I’m alright..“ said Murray. “Practiced today, got through it. Positive steps, hopefully I’ll be good to go for tomorrow“
Whether he would suit up against Dynamo Moscow, he was very brief.
“I hope so“
On the topic of Dynamo Moscow, they’re tomorrow’s opponent and it will be a good game. The two teams have met three times so far in the KHL, with two out of those three games won by the Russian hockey powerhouse, albeit the first one seemed to have a rather bizarre ending where Dynamo tallied twice in the last minutes to turn it around and win it after Michael Ryan’s beautiful goal coming out of the penalty box gave Medveščak the lead.
Dynamo lost to Medveščak after a shootout in early December, but the team from Moscow currently sits in fourth place in the West with 89 points in 44 games (29-15 record). How does Medveščak bring Moscow’s offence to a halt, though?
“They’re a tough team..“ said Murray. “Special teams, goaltending and just winning one on one battles along the boards“
“Just play for 60, play hard on them and make sure we’re doing the little things right“ said Segal
“Stick to our system. Dynamo is one of the top four teams in our division, we got to put them on their heels by putting pucks deep. If they’re in their end, they can’t score in our end“ concluded Letang
Dynamo Moscow at Medveščak. Dom sportova. 18:30h.