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|30 декабря 1999
Zelepukin Says Flyers Can Go All The Way
by Lucas Aykroyd | NHL Correspondent - 30 December, 1999. EuroReport
Once an offensive threat with the New Jersey Devils of the early 1990's, Valeri Zelepukin of the Philadelphia Flyers has seen his scoring fall off in recent years. This season, the 31-year-old Russian winger from Voskresensk has just 16 points in 36 games. Zelepukin, who idolized Guy Lafleur as a boy, would like to contribute more. But his team's strong performance in the first half is keeping him in good spirits. Zelepukin spoke with EuroReport after the Flyers sealed their decade-long domination of the Vancouver Canucks with a 3-2 overtime win at GM Place on 29 December. The swift-skating nine-year NHL veteran clocked 10:15 of ice time on the fourth line with Sandy McCarthy and Daymond Langkow, registering one scoring chance at the end of the second period, which was foiled by the glove of Vancouver goaltender Garth Snow.
EuroReport: How do you feel about the way you're playing so far this year?
Valeri Zelepukin: I have different feelings about my game. At the beginning of the season, I played very well and did a good job for the team. But now it's the middle of the season, and I seem to have slowed down. I just have to keep working.
EuroReport: Are you looking forward to representing the Flyers in the Shooting Accuracy competition on All-Star Weekend after going 4-for-4 in the team Superskills?
Zelepukin [chuckling]: Yeah, well, I think I got lucky with my four shots!
EuroReport: What's the main difference between your role with Philadelphia and your role with New Jersey?
Zelepukin: I would say I still play the same role. But here, I've started to play the penalty kill full-time and help out more on defense.
EuroReport: How is the team handling the news about coach Roger Neilson's fight with cancer?
Zelepukin: We all love him, and everybody prays for him. We hope he'll get better and recover his health.
EuroReport: And you guys have continued to play well since you learned about the situation.
Zelepukin: Yeah, we're keeping to his system and that's why.
EuroReport: Overseas in Sweden, the world junior championships are in progress. What are your strongest memories from the two times you participated in 1987 and 1988?
Zelepukin: I remember playing Canada in Moscow in 1988 for the gold medal. We lost that game 3-2 and ended up with silver. We were frustrated about it, because we had a very solid game and still lost.
EuroReport: Coming from Voskresensk, are you friends with other players from there, like Igor Larionov?
Zelepukin: Not too close friends. Maybe comrades and all. I always keep an eye on the other Russian guys in the league, and we have a lot of guys from Voskresensk. It's always nice to see guys from your hometown.
EuroReport: You've already won a Stanley Cup with New Jersey in 1995. What do the Flyers need to do to take the next step and win a Cup?
Zelepukin: I think right now the Flyers have everything. The coach has
given us a good system. It's up to the players to work hard and smart.
It could happen for us.