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|10 ноября 2006
Kozlov a secret to Thrashers' success // The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By JOHN MANASSO
And then there are the overwhelming individual statistics: Marian Hossa ranked first in points, Ilya Kovalchuk ranked second and Slava Kozlov ranked fourth. Kovalchuk and Hossa also were tied for the league lead in goals.
This from a team that lost Marc Savard (97 points), Peter Bondra (39) and Jaroslav Modry (38).
"If you remember at training camp, I said I think we could be a better team," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "Sometimes a better team does things better. Geez, we're scoring quite a few goals right now. I think it all starts from our zone. The less time we spend in our zone, well, the less time that you're going to be on penalty killing, plus, obviously, if you're not in your zone, you're in the neutral zone or the offensive zone so you can generate some stuff."
It's no great surprise that Kovalchuk and Hossa are among the league leaders in points and goals. Kovalchuk led the league in goals in 2003-04, when he finished second in points, and Hossa finished fourth in goals in 2002-03.
The surprise, then, of the group is the 34-year-old Kozlov, who has never recorded more than 73 points in a season but is on a pace for 100 in this his 15th.
Kovalchuk and Hossa both refer to Kozlov, who won two Stanley Cups with Detroit, as "The Professor." This season, Kozlov has essentially taken over Savard's role and is matching his production. "He is a professor," Kovalchuk said. "He's a classy guy. He knows the game really well. He knows how to win. It's fun to watch him on the ice. He's really patient with the puck. He's always responsible. He's just a really good player for us.
"The season he's having" — Kovalchuk interrupts himself to knock on the wooden dressing room stall — "it's just an unbelievable season, and I hope he's going to keep going."
One example of that class came in Monday's 5-3 win over Boston, an illustration of how no good deed goes unpunished. After Kovalchuk scored his third goal of the game, Kozlov flipped the puck into the stands for a fan — and received an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty because of a new emphasis the NHL is placing on fan safety.
Kozlov said when he played in Detroit, the team was so talented and he was closer to the bottom of ladder. When he had 73 points, Sergei Fedorov had 107.
"I try to stay away from statistics," Kozlov said. "There are lots of games left that have to be played. That's how my dad [taught] me."
His father, Anatoly, is a hockey instructor in Kozlov's native Voskresensk, Russia, a city that has produced some of his nation's all-time greats.
"It's a team game and right now my team's on top, so we're doing a good job," Kozlov said.
Kovalchuk, too, deflected questions about personal stats.
"Did anybody get any more points than us?" he said. "No, so you have to enjoy the time and prepare ourselves for the next game. We have to keep building. It doesn't matter who scores, who is in first place, who is second place, who is in third in the stats. It's all about the team. We're on top of the mountain and the longer we stay there the better for everybody."
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