Ak Bars’ free fall on the threshold of playoffs

Ak Bars Kazan was defeated by Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg — 1:2

'Ak Bars surprised us, we came out quite confused. It is clear that the team is not all right. If, for example, CSKA Moscow had played instead of us, Kazan would have easily been beaten. It's my personal opinion.' It's my personal opinion.' That way a team coach of Avtomobilist Andrei Razin hit the nail on the head immediately after the victory over Kazan the previous day. The third defeat in a row of Bilyaletdinov's 'kittens' and 'free fall' of the team on the verge of playoffs, reports Realnoe Vremya.

The day before the game, Ak Bars apologized for gutless defeat in rivalry with Omskiye Yastreby. As the final match has shown, it was in vain.

'I felt awful after the game. I'm ashamed. First of all, I feel guilty in front of our fans. I would like to apologize for such defeat.'

– What is the main reason for the defeat you think?

'We were losing our concentration and made mistakes in defense. Avangard was moving better, created scoring chances and converted them. We created not too many scoring chances to win. We hit not often, attacked the goal not often, we had too little anger and too little aggression.

Of course, we are ashamed of such game. We need to draw serious conclusions and to begin to show our game as soon as possible,' — said Fedor Malykhin, who has returned after an injury, to the official website of Ak Bars after making no score in a game with Avangard Omsk.

Litmus test

Actually, the day before the game against Avtomobilist, what will be discussed in this article, many players said this to various sports media. Perhaps, it is an influence of the fiery speech of Ak Bars mentor Zinetula Bilyaletdinov in the locker room immediately after the match with Omsk. We won't quote, in order not to breach the Media Act and the basic moral norms in general.

Thus, the final game against Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg will be a litmus test that will show whether 'Bill's' team is controllable shortly before the playoffs begins. Meanwhile, a series of Avtomobilist failures lasts since last year. Ural team hasn't won Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) championship since 10 December, and a losing series includes five games now. These repeated failures put Ural on the brink of failure to get into the Cup's top eight in KHL East. Not so long ago it was in the top eight in KHL East, and now it is the ninth, going behind Neftekhimik with a difference in 4 points. And that is the team that Ak Bars has managed to give way…

A series of Avtomobilist's failures lasts since last year

Abyss from Metallurg<o:p></o:p>

What about Ak Bars, Barys breathes in their back, it scored three points less and can move them to the sixth place on the tournament table. The gap from the leader of the division – 'Magnitka' — was already 8 points. Taking into account current results of Bilyaletdinov's players, that is a huge abyss.

It is noteworthy that after four Galimov's games in the goal he was substituted with Emil Garipov. Besides, Ak Bars official website finally put Zakharchuk in the list of injured. That explains his absence on the ice and Wilson's constant presence.

'Bill's' experiments

In general, there were enough changes in the 'roaster' after the failure with Yastreby. Rylov, Mirnov and Obukhov appeared on the ice. And one of the leaders – Varnakov – left out. Also, Vladimir Tkachev didn't come out on the ice. We would like to remind a reader that he suffered an injury during the game with Omsk. Besides, 'Bill' has experimented enough with combinations. So, Sjogren replaced Tkachev in line with Lukoyanov and Chibisov. And Varnakov in Malykhin's line was substituted with Obukhov.

Active start

Ak Bars started the game very energetically. On the third minute they found Malykhin open on the goal crease, but Fedor hit only near the goalpost. And on the seventh minute Bars' captain Svitov passed to Arkhipov, who from a middle range hit the goal's corner of Ustinskiy.

In general, Kazan controlled the game during the first period, but from the ninth minute Golyshev was pushing in Garypov's goal and gave a good pass to Gareev, but there was not enough accuracy. And then Kazan got a chance to play in the majority. As you may remember, every other man and his dog spluttered on the Bars' play against Avangard. This time, Kazan, at least, managed to control the puck on guests' zone and to make a promising shot for couple of times. But they didn't convert them into points.

In general, Kazan controlled the game in the first period

Obukhov's gratitude

Six minutes before the end of the period, the arbitrators noted violation by Ak Bars and ejected Obukhov, who had hooked Popov, for two minutes. It was Kazan attacker who allowed the sending-off. That way Obukhov thanked 'Bill' for a chance to be on the ice. Meanwhile, Kazan successfully 'killed' the minority. Mainly because of confident actions of Garipov, who, apparently, decided to prove his coaching staff that he is not worse than Galimov. He managed — however, he is not better, too.

Two minutes before the end of the period Malykhin made his best to score in the 'locker room' of Ural guests. His pass to Obukhov was perfect, but his mate ruined the chance.

Avtomobilist's blitzkrieg

At the beginning of the second period, Avtomobilist has managed to move the play on the host zone. Koukal's shot just near the goalpost was memorable. In another attack, Obukhov simply gave the puck to Koukal again, who immediately passed to Golyshev on the goal crease: Garipov's save! And guests got their way. Golyshev found the defender ready to attack, hit on the run, and Popov was the fastest one who finished. Almost immediately, Garipov, after the missed puck, as they say, 'floated', having missed a straight shot from Roman from a middle range. The shot was strong and accurate, but a goalkeeper has to help too, at least, from middle and long ranges. Yes, we have said it earlier, that two 'GaGa' of the Kazan club — goalkeepers of the same average level. And this statement has proved to be true once again.

Garipov, after the missed puck, as they say, 'floated'

Ustinskiy switched Jan Kovar mode on

After a short pause upset Bars put a flurry of shots on a goal of Ustinskiy, who, apparently, decided to switch Jan Kovar mode on and, unlike Garipov, 'dragged' all attempts of Kazan. And five minutes before the end of the second third of the match even Ustinskiy couldn't save the team. However, after Wilson's shot, Chibisov could only hit in an empty-net goal from finishing. Guest's goalkeeper was saved by a goalpost. Now we can understand why the Kazan attacker hasn't scored in 28 games. I mean Chibisov…

From the very first minute of the third period Belov could equalize. He got the puck near the goal after a rebound. A rubber bullet piped above a top corner of Ustinskiy's goal. Four minutes after, Belov found Meller on far corner of the goal crease, who failed to overplay encouraged guests' goalkeeper.

'Slap' from Gareev and Ak Bars' lack of skills

Then, the guests stood out with a dismissal in the attacking zone. It was Gareev who 'slapped' Azevedo with a stick. The second attempt in the majority play turned out to be even more convincing in all aspects, except absence of scores. Why did Korneev fail to finish the pass from Azevedo? Obviously, even Konstantin couldn't answer that question.

In general, Kazan during the second half of the period made a real assault on the goal of unyielded Ustinskiy. However, the puck didn't get in the goal, how a superstitious fan would say. There weren't enough skills, composure and self-confidence, I would answer. Anyway, current Ak Bars 'roaster' is infinitely far from the level of the champions Morozov, Zaripov and others…

Bilyaletdinov's wards are in an unusual state of free

Anyway, Kazan has a three-match series of defeats. With the team that hasn't won since 10 December of last year… Telling the truth, Bilyaletdinov's wards are in an unusual state of free fall. However, we shouldn't forget that the most important part will start in the playoffs. There is plenty of time to get out of the dark. We will wait.

  • Zinetula Bilyaletdinov

    Zinetula Bilyaletdinov a head coach for Ak Bars Kazan

    I think, we lost because of the second period. We didn’t play well in the first ten minutes, then we had many chances, but, unfortunately, didn’t manage to convert them into points.
  • Andrey Razin

    Andrey Razin a head coach for Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg

    It is clear that the team is not all right. If, for example, CSKA Moscow had played instead of us, Kazan would have easily been beaten. It's my personal opinion.
By Artur Khalilullov, Photo by Vadim Kitaev

Ak Bars – Avtomobilist – 1:2 (1:0, 0:2, 0:0)

13 January. Kazan

  • 1:0 – 6 Arkhipov (Svitov, Belov)
  • 1:1 – 24 Popov (Polozov, Kiviste)
  • 1:2 – 25 Roman (Alekseev)