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1 марта 2000 года.
Zhitnik registers net gain 

By BUCKY GLEASON News Sports Reporter 

NEW YORK - Alexei Zhitnik's instincts told him to raise his arms and enjoy the moment, but his excitement was interrupted by memories of this horrific season. Exactly 47 games had separated the Sabres defenseman's first goal from his second, so it didn't seem appropriate to get wrapped up with his contribution in Buffalo's 5-2 victory over Florida on Monday. In fact, it was an embarrassing moment because it brought attention to the fact that he has only two goals all season. 

"I was happy, but then you think that there's nothing to be happy about," Zhitnik said. "It was my second goal of the season. It's far away from what I should score. I'm going to keep going. I'm hoping that was the game for me to get me in the right direction." 

The Sabres are hoping to move in the right direction when they play the New York Rangers tonight in Madison Square Garden (7:30, Empire, Radio 104.1 FM). Buffalo trails New York by one point for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. 

Zhitnik has become symbolic for a Buffalo gang that can't shoot straight. He planted one shot into the ear of Sabres winger Vaclav Varada earlier this season. One reason coach Lindy Ruff moved winger Miroslav Satan to the point on the power play was because Zhitnik couldn't find the net. 

The Sabres supposedly are looking for help on the power play, in part because Zhitnik has been struggling. There have been times this season when fans wanted him benched or traded or anything other than playing before them. Some of his teammates wondered this season how he wasn't benched for at least one game. 

"It's always tough, and it's the same way for every team," Ruff said. "You can't explain it. You're looking for more offense from your offensive defensemen. It gets frustrating, but you have to be patient at the same time. He feels the pressure, and he says he's embarrassed. That's the nature of the beast." 

Zhitnik went into the Florida game shooting less than one percent. The statistic doesn't really mean much for defensemen, but when a player with his speed and skill takes 115 shots on goal and buries one, it almost defies the laws of probability. 

"Now I think it's just mental," Zhitnik said. "Sometimes you just need that one break and there you go. I see (Peca). It was like 40 games (in a slump) and the last 15 games he's been on fire. He's hitting people. He's scoring goals. Sometimes you just need that little push and a little luck." 

A change in fortune couldn't get here soon enough for Zhitnik and his teammates. The Sabres know how critical this stretch of the season is to their playoff hopes. They were humiliated in losses last weekend to the Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs before turning it around against Florida. Now comes another crack at New York. 

"This game is even more important because it's closer to the end of the season," goalie Dominik Hasek said. "We know we can catch them." 

Zhitnik figured his problems started from a lack of confidence, a common affliction in the Sabres' fragile dressing room. Too many times, Zhitnik has put himself into position to take a slap shot only to see a defenseman sliding in front to take it away. Way too many times, he has missed the net completely. 

Ruff still wonders at times why he continues to take slap shots from the point when wrist shots are more accurate and often equally effective. Zhitnik's had slappers miss by several feet this season. He looked like a 40-goal scorer when he beat Florida's Trevor Kidd. The truth is he was trying to shoot into the top corner. Where did it go? Along the ice between Kidd's pads. 

"You lose confidence," he said. "I have the feeling now that I might miss the net or there will be a blocked shot and a breakaway (for the opposition). Now, there's hesitation." 

Zhitnik has been playing better over the last several weeks. The goal was a simple reward. He took three penalties, but the Sabres killed them off. He finished with one goal and one assist, his first two-point night this season. He had not had an assist in the 18 games before Monday. 

The defenseman knows people have been on his case. Heck, he has been on his own case. He and Jason Woolley led the Sabres with 15 playoff points in 21 games last season. Zhitnik has 12 points in 62 games this year. 

"If I deserve a hit, I deserve a hit. If I deserve (praise), then good for me," Zhitnik said. "I can't say I've been playing good hockey and taking hits for nothing. It's been a pretty bad season for me so far. There are 18 games left. If we make the playoffs, everything will quiet down." 

Страничка Алексея Житника на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


21 декабря. Алексей Житник: "Выбрал Ак Барс, потому что не люблю команды, претендующие на вторые роли" // "Спорт-Экспресс"

9 декабря. “Барсы” добавляют в свои ряды Алексея Житника. 

22 сентября. Оригинальный Житник. Знаменитый ветеран во время локаута будет играть в необычной лиге с упрощенными правилами // "Советский Спорт"

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

16 марта. Житник пропустит все оставшиеся матчи сезона. 

9 марта. Алексей Житник: "Меня продают уже два года" - Спорт-Экспресс. 

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