Back at the hotel, Vic Hadfield, Rick Martin and Jocelyn Guevremont came around to say goodby. Rumors had been circulating that we might be having some defections, but I couldn't believe they were true. Thinking about it, I don't understand how a player can leave. Sure, I'm certain some people are hurt and disappointed that they have not been playing, but at the same time what can they gain by going home? We are all part of a team and presumably should have some interest in how things are going around here. The alternative to staying here and cheering on the team is going home to training camp and facing a lot of criticism. They will be returning to something they have gone through before, playing meaningless games in small cities before small audiences.
SEPTEMBER 22: I went up to the rink early so I could watch the Russians warm up. As in Canada the Russians had a highly disciplined, highly organized series of drills that would tire out a lot of professional teams.
Consider Tretiak. After a brief skate he moves into his net and does some stretching exercises. Then he begins his warmup. It starts with Vladimir Shadrin lining up seven or eight pucks about 12 feet away and then rapidly firing them at preplanned spots. He'll fire a batch of shots low to Tretiak's left, then others high to his right. Tretiak knows where Shadrin will be shooting, which seems to defeat the purpose of a warmup, but at the same time he gets himself into the habit of moving in the right way to stop the type of shot he will see most often in the game. He rehearses his moves; simultaneously he familiarizes himself with the net. Very sensible, if you ask me. And something I have never thought about. After Shadrin finishes, Tretiak skates off to a corner and practices doing splits on the ice and then getting back up instantly.
Meanwhile the Russian forwards and defensemen work on game-type situations like three-on-twos and two-on-ones and get into the habit of passing the puck around and stickhandling out of the zone. They must use 15 pucks during their warmup; we use one or two. In one drill each player takes a puck and skates at full speed inside the zone, stickhandling all the time. It looks like a demolition derby as the players frantically try to avoid one another. At the same time it reminds them to keep their heads up and teaches puck control. At the end of the workout Tretiak looks exhausted. No wonder. He must have stopped 200 shots. He'll be happy when the game begins because he won't have to work so hard.
The Russian fans behave much differently than their North American counterparts. For most of a game they sit on their hands, and as you look at them all they seem to be is a sea of brown, black and gray anonymity. They rarely clap or boo; if they think the referee has made a mistake or if they think the opposition is too rough, they whistle sharply. About the only encouragement they ever shout to their own players is the command "Shaibu, shaibu." Shaibu means puck, oddly enough; I guess they want their comrades to put the puck in the net.
As our first Moscow game began, I noticed a startling change in the Russians' style. In Canada their defensemen were primarily feeders; that is, they passed the puck to their forwards. But in this game Yuri Liapkin and Vladimir Lutchenko, the best young Russian defense-men, rushed the puck themselves and shot it at the net from the blue line.
We started out very strongly, fore-checking the Russians closely and disrupting their slick passing game before they ever had a chance to get started. Late in the first period Gilbert Perreault took a pass from Rod Gilbert and made a great move around Alexander Ragulin. Suddenly he whipped a perfect pass out to J. P. Parise in the slot and J.P. blasted the puck past Tretiak.
Early in the second period Bobby Clarke cut in front of Tretiak and stuffed the puck through his legs. 2-0. Then Henderson slapped in a rebound at 11:58 to make it 3-0. After the period Bill Good interviewed me on Canadian television and asked if I thought we'd have any difficulty protecting the lead during the final 20 minutes. "No," I said. "We've got the old adrenalin flowing now, and you don't get weary when there are 3,000 fans cheering like crazy and you have a chance not only to win the game but also tie the series."
But, Geez Murphy, those final 20 minutes. We played stupidly. Instead of continuing the forechecking tactics that had worked so well the first two periods, we stayed back and let the Russians take the puck to us.
Yvan Cournoyer twice had excellent chances on semi-breakaways—but he missed. Poor Yvan is in a little slump. I think he is trying to finesse the goal-tenders instead of firing his hard, high shot at them. It's ironic, but I think part of Yvan's problem comes from listening to his own goalies. For years Yvan used to devastate them in practice sessions with his hard shots, and we finally convinced him to take it a bit easy on us. Now he's gotten into the habit of winding up and then holding back and trying to make a play instead of a shot. The Soviets weren't holding back. Final score: Russia 5, Canada 4.