Nikita Kucherov gave this interview recently after achieving the milestone of scoring in a team’s first six games. He spoke to Dmitry Malinovsky of the website sovsport.ru.
Dmirty Malinovsky: Last season you said that you don’t train your shot. “I just go to the circle and score.” But what are you doing now is great. It seems that you were working on it the whole summer. Is that true?
Nikita Kucherov: I think every hockey player practices their shots. In this way, I’m not doing anything special.
I just go on the ice and try to help the team win. I play correctly, according to the tactics which are required by the coach. I don’t think about statistics. I’m pleased that there is a such a thing. But I’m not obsessed with it. You just should play your game. It’s good if I score, but it’s also great when some of my teammates score and we’re getting the win. Team comes first.
Malinovsky: Someone is already joking that after your interview last April, Steve Yzerman…
Malinovsky: How is it to play on a team with four other players from Russia?
Great. It’s always a pleasure to see guys from Russia. Every Russian hockey player can tell you how difficult it is when you’re the only Russian player on the team. We’re speaking and joking in the same language, enjoying the time together.
Malinovsky: Nikita, can you tell us about your goals tonight?
The first one was on the power play. Nothing sophisticated. My philosophy at this moment is shoot and then try to sort it out.
Malinovsky: You were behind the defenceman. Did you use him to block the goaltender’s view?
If I tell you now, I have to invent something new. So let it be my secret.
Malinovsky: Did you feel that you were personally defended against on the ice today?
It’s always the same in Detroit. This team always plays tough, so every detail has meaning. The main thing for us is to focus on our game and they will have to adapt to our game.
Malinovsky: The season is very long and these points can be very useful at the end of the season.
Yes, you are right. We need points right now. Any win won’t be extra.
Malinovsky: Now you spend about 20 minutes on the ice. Did you somehow change your point of view regarding spending your energy during the game?
Of course, I have to portion out my energy so I won’t be exhausted at the end of the game. But it comes with experience. I learn from others.
Malinovsky: How long ago did you install synthetic ice in your garage? What size is it?
I did it last summer. I have a garage for two cars, an artificial rink takes the whole space.
Malinovsky: How often do you practice in the garage?
I don’t practice much now. The season has begun, I have enough practice at the arena. But I spent 30-40 minutes twice a day during the summer. There was more time.
Malinovsky: What do you concentrate on when you’re practicing your shot?
The main thing is to hit the net. Could there be any other aim?
Malinovsky: Is your first goal the result of summer practicing?
I hope so.
Malinovsky: Jon Cooper said that you even have some non-standard way of skating. It’s hard to predict your next step.
I’m working on it too. The harder it is for a defenceman to read my game and predict my next move, the easier it is for me to create a dangerous moment in the attack.