The great art in the playoffs is not to reveal any traces of insecurity or doubt. After the Eisbären lost 3:5 at home to the Adler Mannheim and the first match puck was awarded to get into the final, all Berliners who were asked for assessments took an attitude that was intended to signal: Don’t panic, we’re still in the situation fully under control.
Frans Nielsen, for example, who had equalized to make it 1-1 in the meantime, said with an iron expression: “It was clear to us that it wouldn’t be easy. They’re a good team, but we just have to find a way to show our best game.” Coach Serge Aubin had let it be known a few minutes earlier that his side were prepared for such a configuration.
In fact, in a duel between the DEL record champions from Berlin (8 titles) and the first pursuer (7 titles), one had to assume that it would be a hard-fought series that would possibly last the entire five-game period. After the important overtime victory in the first game (4:3) and the demonstration of power in the last third at the eagles, when the polar bears finally prevailed 6:3, the impression was created that the reigning champion is currently a number ripped off as the permanent rival.
Stress in polar bears
But the threat of a premature end to the season meant that the Mannheimers in Berlin acted more focused and aggressive in the duels, while the polar bears often got tangled up in their actions. “They just fought to survive and gave everything,” analyzed Wiederer. “We are often a bit too complicated. We have to keep it simple.”
It can be assumed that the Eagles will follow a similar plan in the fourth game in Mannheim (19.30) as they did in Berlin. “They have a couple of very big players who bring in a lot physically,” says Nielsen. And they will do everything possible to set an accent early on in order to stress the Berliners with the feeling of the impending series equalization. The support from the ranks should help.
The polar bears, on the other hand, have already proven in this series in particular that they can keep a cool head, even when the course of the game turns to their disadvantage. That’s why Nielsen, with his experience of more than 1500 professional assignments, urges himself and his colleagues to calm down. “We just have to keep trusting in what we can do.” And the longer the game stays balanced in Mannheim, the more the Adler will come under pressure and have to take risks.
Especially since the polar bears have often proven this season how organized they can be on foreign ice. “Play-offs consist of ups and downs,” Nielsen says. The 3: 5 was the first low for the polar bears since the beginning of the knockout phase. That alone does not cause uncertainty – at least on the outside.