Nikolai Makarov: Competition is crazy in the Eastern Conference!

Head of the Ice Hockey Federation of Chelyabinsk region Nikolai Makarov expresses his opinion on the Traktor`s 2018-19 regular season and the Gagarin`s Cup playoffs.

Nikolai, what is your opinion on the Chelyabinsk`s team qualifying for the playoffs?
Needless to say that I follow the game results of my beloved club and I would like to say that Chelyabinsk citizens have reasons to enjoy the club`s games. This season is crazy in terms of competition in the Eastern conference. Initially there are thirteen teams in the East, not twelve as in the West, so the price for playoff spot is much higher.

Of course, there are so called "Big Four" clubs, but Traktor had many more opponents to fight. And it took almost the second half of the season to rival with Sibir, Neftekhimik and Kunlun Red Star. But our guys did a great job, they made it to the playoffs.

And it`s twice as good if we consider the conditions of their work. For any hockey teams the situation when two first lines and defence pairs are on the injury list is a disaster. But Traktor overcame it and the regular season turned out to be a good test before the playoffs.

What can you say about the playoffs?

The current playoffs are totally unpredictable. Who could know that SKA would lose two home games to Spartak or Jokerit, where half of the Finland national team plays, would be on the edge of elimination? Last season champion Ak Bars was the first to leave the playoffs.

Speaking of the Traktor and Avtomobilist`s rivalry, the suspense could be even stronger unless there was such a difference in skills. If our team had all leaders in the lineup, not in the injury list, everything would be different. But even with the roster Traktor has now, guys fight till the last moments of the game. Even our opponent admits it.

 I think that we can see that the base for the following season is being done now, of course, with some roster changes during the midseason.

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