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1 апреля 2001 года.
Zhitnik finds new zone  // Buffalo News 

DEREK GEE/Buffalo News Alexei Zhitnik's numbers over the past nine games: one goal, eight assists, plus-10. 
News Sports Reporter 

TAMPA, Fla. - Alexei Zhitnik's confidence was shot. 
Last season he was coming off an all-star campaign and had been one of the Buffalo Sabres' most potent weapons in their run for the Stanley Cup. 

But none of that carried over for the Ukranian defenseman. For whatever reason, he just couldn't locate his game - not on the ice and not between his ears. 

"Last season was really disappointing," Zhitnik said. "Probably 50 or 55 of those games I played shaky hockey. It was no timing, no sense of hockey." 

Zhitnik skated through the season in a haze. It ended when he missed the Sabres' playoff-eliminating loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, having been suspended for a high-sticking incident. 

But Zhitnik's fog has lifted, and with that he is playing some of the best hockey of his career. 

Zhitnik arguably has been the Sabres' best skater the past two weeks, a trend he hopes to continue against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight in the Ice Palace (6 p.m., Empire, Radio 107.7 FM, 1330 AM). 

"I think he's playing great," Buffalo defenseman Rhett Warrener said. 
Added Sabres coach Lindy Ruff: "His overall game is as good as it's been since I've been here." 

Zhitnik has been steady all season, recording six goals and 28 assists while compiling a minus-3 rating. 

But his numbers over the past nine games have been close to remarkable: one goal, eight assists, plus-10. 

"He's picking it up," Warrener said. "It's reminiscent of the year we made that run into the finals and turned it up into the playoffs. To be successful, we're going to need him to continue." 

The biggest reason for Zhitnik's revitalization, simply put, is rediscovered confidence. He's not sure where it went or how he got it back, but he's rather pleased with the results. 

"Confidence is 99 percent of success," Zhitnik said. "If a good player doesn't have confidence, he just gets flustered." 

Zhitnik's surging confidence is obvious to his teammates. 

"You can really tell out there," Sabres defenseman Jason Woolley said. "He's making everything look easy. He's threading passes, he's passing over sticks, he's shooting through guys. When you don't have confidence you don't make a lot of those plays. You can really see that in his play." 

With that type of assuredness back in his game, Zhitnik can play what he calls "hockey on the edge," a swashbuckling style that earned him praise around the league just two seasons ago. 

"When you get going, when you have confidence 100 percent, you can play risky hockey," Zhitnik said. "When you're scoring three, four, five goals you know one mistake is not going to affect the game. 

"We're playing really good hockey. So you can play a little bit risky." 
Zhitnik has four power-play goals, his most with the Sabres since he scored five in 1995-96. But he has not been totally pleased with his offensive production, saying, "mentally, in the back of my mind, I'm thinking just about defense." 

He would like to start producing like he did early in his career. As a rookie with the Los Angeles Kings, he scored 48 points. The next season he registered a career-high 52 points, including 11 power-play goals. 

Zhitnik's best season with the Sabres was 1997-98, when he netted a career-high 15 goals, including three short-handed, and posted a plus-19 rating. 

Ruff attributes part of Zhitnik's strong play of late to his pairing with veteran James Patrick. 

Not only did Ruff previously ask Zhitnik to anchor a duet with Dimitri Kalinin, but he was switched from his usual left side to accommodate the rookie. 

"Everybody has noticed a difference," Ruff said. "He's a lot more comfortable playing the left. The move to the right with Kalinin wasn't a comfortable move. He had no problem playing it, but he seems to be more active and a lot better on the left." 

Whatever works. Zhitnik's merely happy that - more often than not this season - he has been able to play his game again. 

"It's been up and down," Zhitnik said. "Nobody can play perfect hockey. But in the last 70 games I've played, probably 55 to 60 were good to me." 

Страничка Алексея Житника на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


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1 июля. Житник будет искать счастья на рынке свободных агентов. 

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2 марта. This time, Zhitnik hopes trade winds don't blow him away - Buffalonews.com

4 февраля. Zhitnik deserves high praise - buffalonews.com


"ЗВЁЗДЫ С ВОСТОКА" @ c 1997 года