Niko Mikkola’s drubbing of Florida’s Russian hero caused the NHL finals crowd to tear up | Sport

Niko Mikkolas drubbing of Floridas Russian hero caused the NHL

FORT LAUDERDALE. To the general public, the Stanley Cup playoff tour appears as just a single series of matches, but much more happens behind the scenes on the intermission day. Coaches, players and media worked practically every day during the final series. Even for travel days, the league has often arranged interview opportunities – if nothing else, then through computer connections.

On Sunday, they operated at Florida’s new training hall, in Fort Lauderdale.

Florida’s playing lineup did not come to the ice, but the assistant coach for those outside the lineup Tuomo Ruutu drew a long and careful exercise. After this, the NHL brought a few players and the head coaches of both teams to be interviewed by the press behind a table built in the media room.

Edmonton was first behind the table in two sets Ryan Nugent-Hopkins mixed Leon Draisaitl and Connor Brown mixed Mattias Ekholm. The media has 10-15 minutes to grill two players. Finally, the Swedish journalists were able to ask Ekholm a couple of questions.

After this, an extraordinary Finnish day was launched.

In today’s NHL, players are poorly accessible to the media – or at least worse than in previous years. For several years, it has been difficult even for the Finnish media to get our domestic stars in front of recorders and cameras.

For example Alexander Barkov was not allowed in front of the media after the first final match, despite promises.

Mikkola in a hurry

On Sunday, Barkov was released, as was also released Eetu Luostarinen mixed Niko Mikkola. In the end, out of the four players brought out by Florida, three were from Härmä. Only Swedish Gustav Forsling broke the blue and white front. The local media hardly considered the coverage to be the best possible, but did their job and built their story through the Finns.

Barkov was asked how it feels to experience the championship with three other Finnish players. This was also asked of other Finns. The player from Tampere was also asked if he feels like a big brother to the other three Finnish players on the team.

– Absolutely not. Those guys are professionals and even though they are younger, they are more mature than their age. It’s great that there are players here from your home country, with whom you can sometimes chat in your native language. It is special to pursue a big goal together with them and to do everything possible for it, Barkov answered.

– We Finns have a lot of fun, Mikkola said.

Right after, Barkov, who received widespread praise at the beginning of the series, was asked how he felt Wayne Gretzky the praise was felt. “Ysiysi” stated during the first telecast of the finals that Barkov is the best defensive forward in the NHL since he excelled in the New York Islanders in the 1970s and 80s By Bryan Trottier.

– Everyone knows what Wayne Gretzky has done for hockey. When you hear that from such a big player, it really means a lot. Yes, it felt good, Barkov said.

Barkov was also asked as a leader. Mikkola stressed that Barkov is the face of the whole team.

– Of course, as a Finn, it helps that we have another Finn as our leading player. I know him a little already and I know how he leads more by example than speech and on the other hand how he is listened to when he opens his mouth.

Mikkola, who is more unknown to the general public, especially in North America, was in the middle of the day in the middle of the media. The Kiiming man, who is having an excellent playoff spring, was asked what a superstar is like Connor McDavid playing against feels.

– It’s always a challenge. When you see him coming at full speed, just try to keep your feet moving. It’s still more important to play closely with five players and give him a hit whenever possible. Still, he creates chances and occasionally puts the defender in a bind.

– But that’s what we have “Bobby” for, Mikkola threw the goalkeeper To Sergei Bobrovsky pointing out and had the media room burst into sweet laughter.

Mikkola also assured that he is fully enjoying the first long spring of his NHL career. In Finland, Mikkola reached the finals with KalPa and won the championship with Tappara, but in the NHL before this spring, he had not gone further than the second round. It’s also an interesting coincidence that Eetu Luostarinen, who sat next to Mikkola at the press day, was also on KalPa’s final trip (2016).

– I have great memories from that KalPa final trip, even if a little bitter. I’m sure neither of us thought at the time that we’d be sitting here, Mikkola continued.

– The playoffs are my world, because I like to play hard and tackle. This spring has been a great time and I have enjoyed every series.

Swedish defender Gustav Forsling was asked about his view of Mikkola’s spring.

– He is like made for the playoffs. He’s a big player who really likes to tackle, but at the same time he’s a player who always has the stick in the right place. He does everything on the ice, praised the Swede, who belongs to the series’ absolute defender elite.

Will McDavid hold his own?

Eetu Luostarinen, who missed the final games of last season due to injury, told how it felt to score the first Stanley Cup final hit of his career. Luostarinen completed the 3-0 final score from Barkov’s pass into an empty net on Saturday.

– It was the first final for myself, so I was really excited. Scoring is always fun, but I just try to always do my best.

Finally, Barkov got to answer questions about how clearly Florida, who lost to Edmonton in the opening round, intends to improve its game control and goal positions, and of course the much talked about topic of how Connor McDavid stops.

– We know that we have to play better than on Saturday. We have to be able to keep improving because Edmonton is an incredible team with a lot of skill. The challenge is tough. Now let’s recover and enjoy the victory, but tomorrow we’ll go back to work and continue grinding.

– McDavid and I played well in the third set. We dared to play a little harder in it. We didn’t give space and we didn’t think too much about where we should go here. He’s so fast that when you start thinking about where to go, he’s already gone.

The second final will be played early Tuesday morning Finnish time in Florida. Florida leads the series with wins 1–0. Four wins are required for the championship.