21 сентября 2017 года.
Неудачно начав предсезонные матчи (поражение от «Вегаса» 1:4), «Колорадо Аваланч» гораздо лучше провели свою вторую игру, обыграв на домашнем льду «Даллас Старс» 5:1. Большой вклад в успех команды внесли россияне — голкипер Семен Варламов, защитник Сергей Бойков и нападающий Наиль Якупов (никто из них не выходил на льд против «Вегаса»).
29-летний Варламов, не игравший из-за травмы паха с 17 января, в итоге провел в воротах все 60 минут, отразив 21 бросок из 22-х. 23-летний Якупов, пришедший в «Колорадо» после подписания однолетнего контракта на $875.000 долларов как свободный агент, сделал три голевые передачи при игровом времени 16:56, 21-летний Бойков, выбранный «Аваланч» на драфте 2015 года под 161-м номером, сделал счет 3:0 в середине первого периода.
К сожалению, В скором времени после своей заброшенной шайбы Бойков получил вывих плеча и выбыл из строя на неопределенное время, практически лишив себя шанса побороться за место в составе «Колорадо». Год назад, в 63 матчах АХЛ за «Сан Антонио Рампадж», Сергей отметился 16 очками (3+16) и 69 минутами штрафа.
Nail Yakupov: “This is a chance I have to take”
15 сентября 2017 года. dsndenver.com
Sitting next to countryman Semyon Varlamov, joking and laughing in their Russian tongue, newcomer Nail Yakupov doesn’t look like a man on his third team in three years and on what might be the last gasp of his NHL career. The playful demeanor from the Colorado Avalanche forward has eroded the trademark stoicism of his netminder teammate and brought some levity to a locker room severely lacking in it the last 12 months.
While the Avalanche were suffering through an excruciating and embarrassing 48-point season, Yakupov found himself buried on the depth chart as a member of the St. Louis Blues and after a mid-season coaching change, relegated to the press box – an unfamiliar and unwelcome locale for the first overall selection in the 2012 NHL Draft. Now in Denver on a “prove it” one-year contract, Yakupov knows this season could be his last shot at redemption in the NHL.
“This is a chance I have to take,” the normally chatty Yakupov said succinctly.
When asked what went wrong in Edmonton, then St. Louis, Yakupov stiffened like a man reliving a nightmare.
“I believe it’s going to be better here,” Yakupov said, the wide smile disappearing from his face. “I’m just looking forward. I don’t want to go back.”
His potential benefit to the Avalanche is obvious. Along with being a No. 1 pick, he’s best known for a rookie season in which scored 17 goals in just 48 games of a lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. He seemed on his way to a starry career, but that total still represents his career high. After that, he slowly worked his way down in lineups as the Edmonton Oilers performed a line change of coaches during his four years there.
The Avs, they of a league-low 165 goals (2.01 per game), were looking for additional juice this summer and found themselves with a buy-low opportunity in Yakupov. Though still very early, the marriage has produced classic preseason positivity for a club and player desperately in need of some. Playing alongside much-maligned Matt Duchene during training camp, the two found instant chemistry and created jaw-dropping offensive creativity from the get-go.
Sunday, in the Burgundy-White scrimmage, “Yak” had two assists in the first two periods, one a soft lead pass that J.T. Compher buried from the right circle and a sick saucer pass to Travis Barron on a 2-on-1 that the prospect buried past Varlamov.
“It’s been very nice,” Yakupov admitted, the patented smile returning. “It’s only practice but I think everyone has worked real hard and I think we’ve focused and chatted and know what we’re going to do. We got a good chemistry already and it’s really good. We just have to stick with it.”
Even if the partnership with Duchene is short-lived, Yakupov feels confident just being back on the ice. The experience of being a healthy scratch under Blues head coach Mike Yeo helped him rediscover how much he loved playing the game and the Avs are in line to benefit.
“I just play and it’s much better when you play instead of sitting in top of the rink just watching,” Yakupov said. “I’ll stick with the team and I’ll stick with the guys who play with me and no matter who, we’re all going to try to do the same thing and try to win the game.”
Not everything from his stint with the Blues was negative, as his time with head coach Ken Hitchcock in the first half of the season helped him appreciate the importance of commitment to an all-around game and understanding his role on the ice in all situations.
“I’ll try to do everything I can,” Yakupov said. “Try to use my strength, use my speed and my shot, and especially be good in all three zones. Be helpful. I don’t want to be stuck. If you win possession in one and lose the other two you have to be good in all three zones and especially know what you’re going to do on the ice and what your assignments are. You have to be smart, you have to be careful, and you also have to be a hard player to play.”
Being harder to play against has been a universal goal after a grueling conditioning and testing regimen put in place by the Avalanche coaching staff. The goal is to get the players up to regular season conditioning levels quicker and help change the all-too-lax attitude of players in previous years.
“It was a really tough couple days,” Yakupov said with a laugh. “We all knew it was going to be long days and we all knew we have to work hard and be good on fitness testing. We’re happy it’s over and our mindset now is play hockey and systems and how we’re going to play and prove ourselves every day.”
For the Avalanche and Yakupov, the always-optimistic preseason has given both a chance to refresh and reset and move on from the failures of the past. Should the mercurial Yakupov live up to his enormous potential, it might be the Avalanche getting the last laugh this time.
Голы - 1:
С.Бойков (Колорадо) - 1
Передачи - 5:
Н.Якупов (Колорадо) - 3
А.Бурмистров (Ванкувер) - 1
И.Проворов (Филадельфия) - 1
Победы - 1: