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Krivokrasov's Turning It Around In Chicago
[by bob flakus - 7 november, 1997]
It's not often that Chicago winger Sergei Krivokrasov is cast in the spotlight for extraordinary play and effort, but this season he is drawing a great deal of attention to himself, and for all the right reasons.
Krivo's efforts this season are earning him local and national attention, and some of his plays have been the stuff of NHL highlight films. With 5 goals and 9 points through 15 games of the 1997-98 season, he finds himself second only to linemate Tony Amonte (6+6=12) in team scoring.
More importantly however, he has stepped it up at an important time. Although he has only one game-winning goal, many of his points have helped turn around the Blackhawks' fortunes. Chicago has won four in a row, including a 2-1 win over St. Louis Thursday night, a streak that has allowed the team to all but forget a season-opening skid of seven consecutive losses, tying a franchise record. While his numbers are not exactly lighting up the league, Krivo is nevertheless off to his career best start as a Blackhawk.
For the most part, Sergei Krivokrasov has been an enigma to most NHL onlookers since his arrival in the fall of 1992. It's obvious that Blackhawks management was impressed with what they had seen of the then 18-year old native of Angarsk, Russia. So much so, in fact, they chose him in the first round (12th overall) of the 1992 entry draft, passing up the likes of Sergei Gonchar (14th), Igor Korolev (38th), Mike Peca (40th), and Darren McCarty (46th) to name a few.
However, Krivo's debut to the NHL proved to be unspectacular, playing in 4, 9, and 41 games respectively in his first three seasons. It wasn't until the 1996-97 season that Krivo became a regular in the Blackhawks lineup, and even then controversy was a constant companion. One would be more likely to find Krivo's name involved in trade rumors than box scores.
But he's still in Chicago. The Blackhawks have been patient with Krivo's development; the fact that they have not given up on him attests to their support. Now, it appears that patience is starting to pay off.
One major reason for this may be what Krivo is showing everyone this season: Maturity. And he's impressing more than Chicago management along the way.
"[Krivokrasov] really wants to play well this year. You can see it in his attitude and the way he approaches each and every game," high scoring RW Tony Amonte told the EuroReport. "He wants to be one of the better players on this club."
And according to Amonte, Krivokrasov has the tools to be just that. "I've always believed in Krivo," Amonte said. "He's probably the most talented guy we have on the club besides Alex [Zhamnov]. He can make things happen out there."
Having the support of both teammates and the coaching staff appears to be pivotal to Krivo's success. Although he played in 67 games for the Blackhawks last season, regular shifts and regular linemates were not part of the scenario, and inconsistency plagued him.
"Last season, I came to every game ready to play, but maybe I didn't get as many opportunities. This year, coach [Craig] Hartsburg is giving me a lot of opportunities to play, and he's keeping me on one line," Krivo told the EuroReport after Chicago's recent 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh, a game in which he was a factor in two of the Blackhawks' three goals, including scoring the game winner. "I'm trying to prove to everyone that I deserve the chance to play."
Although Sergei Krivokrasov has been in the Blackhawks organization for five seasons, it's easy to overlook the fact that he's only 23 years old, and his best days may still be ahead. Perhaps his high draft pick status may have put undue idealistic expectations on him. While he may never reach the elite status in the NHL as his countrymen like Pavel Bure, Sergei Fedorov, or Alex Mogilny, realistically Krivo has the potential to be a solid 20-30 goal per season player, and that would suit the Blackhawks and their fans just fine.
©1997 Glenwood Associates, Inc. and The Pro Hockey EuroReport
Страничка Сергея Кривокрасова
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