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Translations by Tomas Jandik
Robert Lang: "The coach can't afford to start freaking out" (MF Dnes interview) - 19-Nov-02
http://hokej.idnes.cz/nhl.asp?r=nhl&c=A021119_105321_nhl_vrt

Washington has played 18 games so far, so you should be able to say by now whether teaming with Jagr has worked.

Playing with Jagr is great. He is the kind of a player who can tie up a lot of opponents, so suddenly you have quite a lot of free space on the ice.

However, the situation of Washington isnít apparently particularly rosy these days. As far as goals scored are concerned, you are the 3rd worst team in the whole NHL.

Thatís right, itís a total disaster. We have just one line that scores. These days, if Jarda Jagr or Peter Bondra doesnít score, nobody will. Everybody knows it, but there isnít much that can be done about it.

What would help the most to get the team out of this misery?

We simply need either the second or the third line that can exert some pressure during a game and sometimes can decide matches. If the others started piling it up more, the opponents would have to guard somebody else besides us.

But maybe it should be your line or Peter Bondra who should decide those matches for WashingtonÖ

I donít mean that the other lines should decide all the games. It would be sufficient to do it once, not every game, but God, at least once in a while, so that we can get some help. When our line doesnít occasionally play that great, because we get tired or something. When we play one evening and the goal scorers are me and Jarda, then the second game may not be that great on our part - in those cases somebody could pick it up. Once in a whileÖ

Jaromir Jagr complained that the defensemen donít support the attack much, either.

I perfectly agree. The only defenseman who has scored a goal so far is Gonchar Ė and even that happened just once. But the point isnít that they should score goals, not at all. Our game lacks smooth transition. We have the forward line, then there is a hole, and then the defensemen. If we play against the team where the players return responsibly and skate well, the defensemen have to help and pass quickly. When they donít do it, then we simply drive into the opponentís fully prepared defense.

But Washington as a team also almost doesnít shoot. In last two games you fired less than 30 shots. And that should be primarily the responsibility of forwardsÖ

The number of shots doesnít matter. [When I played] In Pittsburgh, everybody was out-shooting us by 20 shots, yet we were winning 5:3. What matters is the quality of those shots. If somebody has thirty shots, fifteen of them from the blue line, then nobody cares. If you have 10 shots, and score 7 goals, then everything will be a OK. But if you score just once or twice, then itís bad. Our problem really is that besides the three of us, nobody else scores goals.

What does coach Cassidy do about it? Can he cope with it, given that he is a rookie? After all, he is just 37 years old.

It doesnít matter how young he is. Yes, he is still gaining experience, but he is all right. He just needs to be more of a diplomat. If we donít play great, he should be saying ĎDonít worry, letís go, the team is solid, weíll make it, no problemsí. He canít start freaking out, because half of the young guys wonít be able to cope with it, and in that case pretty much nobody will be able to play.

Aside from hockey, how do you like Washington, DC?

The city is beautiful, simply super. We live about 30 km from the center, but even there we like it very much. There are restaurants all over the place. Pittsburgh was quite an industrial town. The guys were great there, but as far as the city atmosphere, nothing that special.

The world is pretty much managed out of Washington. But recently, you had a crazy sniper over thereÖ

That was something! Fortunately, they caught him. It was really tough, because he pretty much had no motive, no reason, nothing. So nobody knew who would be the next in line. Besides, he used to change his position. One hour in the south, one hour in the north, nobody was safe. Day and night. Open spaces or garages. He simply didnít care. Well, fortunately itís all behind us.

Tomas Jandik is the resident Czech on LetsGoPens.com and is a man who, unlike Bobby Lang, thinks that as far as city atmosphere goes, Pittsburgh is the bestest place in the whole universe... :)

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