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23 декабря 2003 года. 
Wild's Zyuzin plays with growing confidence - Star Tribune

Chris Snow

One of the more remarkable attributes of many pro athletes is their frequent lack of knowledge about their own performance. Feel good. Feel bad. That's the litmus test.

"To be honest," Andrei Zyuzin said when asked about his magnificent month of December, "I don't know how to get a computer. No. 2, I don't have time with the baby. And No. 3, we don't have stats in the locker room."

Zyuzin found the following revelation about his recent statistics rather, well, revealing: six points and a plus-8 in nine games this month. He toted a team-worst minus-11 and only five points into December.

"Without looking, I feel confident," Zyuzin said. "My legs are going and my head is clear."

The latter, Zyuzin said, is the most important factor. He feels better than at any point in his career for three reasons -- a thorough understanding of his role, clear communication with the head coach and a healthy 10-month old son named Ivan.

"I'm blessed," Zyuzin said. "Family, kids, hockey, everything's going fine."

Zyuzin joined the Wild a year ago November, a classic underachiever. He's only 25, and yet the eight-year anniversary of the 1996 draft -- when San Jose selected him No. 2 overall -- comes up this spring. He was traded from San Jose to Tampa Bay in August 1999, then to New Jersey in November 2001. Last November, Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello placed Zyuzin on waivers.

"That was a favor," Zyuzin said. "I appreciate it. He told me, 'I want you to play. I don't want you to wait for a trade.' I'm thankful. He told me where I'd be going and that the team would be very similar."

The Wild, from GM Doug Risebrough to coach Jacques Lemaire, still cannot believe the team landed such potential on waivers. They can, however, understand how a prodigal offensive defensemen was given up on when he never produced more than 20 points, his career high in 2000-01 with the Lightning.

"When he first came in, what I wanted him to do is understand the game first," Lemaire said. "Because all the other teams that had him in the past, they wanted points. And if a guy doesn't get points, you say, 'Well, he doesn't get points, he doesn't play good defensively, so let him go, trade him or whatever.' But we felt if he could understand the defensive game, he could hold on for a while.

"That's what he did. Now we're working on offense with him because he knows the game defensively."

Lemaire pulled Zyuzin aside about a month ago. His shot, a cannon with a corkscrew windup, was coming off the blade slow and tentative.

"I was thinking I didn't want to hit the defenseman," Zyuzin said. "That makes you a little nervous. He told me, 'You know what, just shoot. If you hit the defenseman once, he won't be standing there a second time.' "

That advice streaked through Zyuzin's mind against the Oilers on Dec. 3. He unleashed a rocket from the left point, one of his six shots on net that night. Marian Gaborik tipped the puck for the game's only goal. Then, Dec. 9 against Calgary, Zyuzin scored a goal and set up another in a 2-1 victory.

"He's shooting with a purpose now," Lemaire said. "It makes a huge difference."

Those points gave Zyuzin eight for the season.

"Jacques has said defense first," Zyuzin said. "I don't worry about points. The first couple years I worried about my points and that probably frustrated me. Here I'm not frustrated.

"If we win, that's my point."

Страничка Андрея Зюзина на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


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