Great article on Koivu
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04-17-2004, 11:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Montreal, QC
Well this is the best I could do for a translation:
Saturday, April 17th - You don't even have to look as far back as 6 weeks to find a time when Saku Koivu, following an altercation with Mike Ribeiro, was one of the "accused." Weren't we seriously questionning his leadership and his ability to fill the role of captain in such a prestigious organization?
Weren't we questionning his behaviour within the dressing room - especially during Sheldon Souray's absence - and weren't we just questionning in general whether or not Koivu understood his responsabilities at all?! The little Finn is in the process of giving us all a clear and concise response. He is actually setting an example for the guy who was supposed to crush the Canadiens, the guy who was supposed to, despite a rib injury, guide the Bruins towards the second round of the playoffs.
In fact, while Koivu has been playing with energy during each of his shifts on the ice, Joe Thornton, the titan/oaf of the Bruins, has "led" his team towards the unthinkable: the possibility of losing a 3-1 series lead. The Bruins centerman did nothing to gain the confidence of his troops on Thursday night, making mistakes on 2 Canadiens' goals and finding himself in the penalty box for 4 minutes when Boston was already behind 2-0 at the end of the second period.
If Thornton lost his head, if he was uncapable of controlling his emotions, it's because Koivu has decided to make it into a personal relation. The Finnish player's objective is the second round and to get there, he has to thwart all efforts of the big centerman, rendering him vulnerable. Koivu has succeeded to perfection in his mission. Not only has he surpassed Thornton when it comes to work ethic and performance - his line with Richard Zednik and Alex Kovalev is on fire - but Thornton seems incapable of adjusting to his rival's shadowing.
"During the playoffs," Koivu explained yesterday, "you know you're going to be playing against the same team and possibly the same player over a period of up to 14 days. It's obvious that you're going to develop a competitive spirit that's higher than during the regular season. The challenge is enormous and it's full of consequence. I like this kind of competition." Will he be able to keep up this rhythm? Will he be able to maintain this tempo?
"Do we really have a choice?" he asked. "You have to keep in perspective that we won game 5 by giving a constant 60-minute effort, but, in fact, we still don't have any room for error. It's the Bruins who have the possibility of losing the next game, not us."
Koivu will enter the 6th game of the series, tonight at the Bell Centre, with his playoff makeup and the courage and determination that sets the real competitors apart from the rest. He gives up 6 inches to his bigger Boston rival, and Thornton has more resources than Koivu, but up till now, the Canadiens' captain has taken the initiative, never letting his opponent impose his rules. He has shown that to win the battle against Thornton, he has to always keep an eye on him. He has to be sure that Thornton will always have him in his range of vision.
Thus far, Koivu has obtained 6 points. Thornton none.
Koivu has inspired his teammates. Oppositely, Thornton still hasn't responded to the high expectations that were awaiting him.
Koivu has won the one on one battles, while Thornton's game has been full of holes.
It's not surprising that Mike Sullivan, after Thursday's game, was talking about the lack of discipline not only when it came to the behaviour of certain players, but also when it came to the execution of the game plan. What can we expect from a young, nervous coach, short of solutions. He could have had the best plan in the world, but if his best forces don't come through against their adversaries, then it all falls apart.
The Canadiens will take to the ice at the Bell Centre with the same confidence and determination that they've had during the past 3 games.
"And we'll have another ecstatic crowd behind us," mentioned the captain before leaving the arena with a big smile.
It's not a perfect translation, but I think it gets the gist of it.
Last edited by Dan K: 04-17-2004 at
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