The KHL playoffs are becoming more attainable for the Bears considering their recent performances in the rink. They're currently only six points away from 8th place in the Western Conference.
''We're playing a slightly different style that's starting to work, and the goalies, with whom we've been fighting all season, have been really good in the last little while. Cal Heeter has been giving us big chances to win in every game. We've finally figured out what we have to do to be successful, and in this job if you try hard you get rewarded'', said coach Doug Shedden.
Even though those six points seem really close, at the same time they're really far because points are very tight in the West. That said, not everything depends on the Bears, but also on Vityaz, Torpedo, Dinamo Riga, Severstal, Atlant, and Slovan and how they all play in the remainder of the regular season.
''That's right. It's bad news that we only have twelve games left. We're going to need at least twenty-seven points. It's going to be hard, but it's not impossible. We're definitely going to have to connect a few wins in a row. However, the game schedule is working against us because we have lots hard road games against really good teams ahead of us. But we're not giving up! Right now we're not concerned about where we're playing, but how we're playing. If we keep playing the way we've been playing, then we have a chance at the playoffs. I'd say we have a seventy percent chance of making it.''
Throughout his coaching career, Shedden has found himself in this sort of situation before and came out of it on top...
''In my first year as head coach of Zug, we secured the playoffs in the very last moment. Out of the final fifteen games we won thirteen and made it into the final playoff spot. In each of those games we had a different hero that would score in the final seconds of a game, in penalty kills... Some crazy, unbelievable things happened. And that's exactly the type of situation we have here in Zagreb. In every game there's a player that plays really well, stands out, and does something special for the team... We've been playing really well since the Spengler Cup, but there are still a few players that have to play better. But, if we look at the whole picture, I'm happy. We lacked passion in the game before, we weren't excited, we lacked adrenaline, but something happened in Davos, I don't know what, but it clearly had an effect on the team to turn things around so much.''
That passion that they showed in recent games is going to have to spill over onto the ice on Tuesday (7:30PM) when another of their direct playoff rivals come to the Ice Hall of Dom Sportova, Atlant from Mytishchi. The two teams have played 3 games against each other this season, with the win ratio being 2:1 for the Bears.
''This is an extremely important game for us that is no different from the rest we've played this week. It's going to be tight from start to finish. I don't expect a lot of goals, but I do expect a very tense game and an equally tight end result'', concluded Shedden, adding:
''Now's the time of the best and most intense hockey, in the best time of the season, and whatever the outcome may be, our fans will enjoy the best hockey so far in a big and solid battle of the best for points!''