[Sport-Express reporter Slava Malamud caught up with Alex Ovechkin after the nail-biter against Philly and had this interview in today's issue of Sport-Express.. After reading Ovy's comments on the Semin-Ovechkin-Backstrom line perhaps it should now be called the Reese's Cup line?]
Ovechkin came out to meet the press directly from the shower, dressed only in a towel and some bling. Your correspondent is not informing you of his déshabillé simply for the sake of our female readership, but solely for the purpose of reporting some valuable news. Alexander's bling partially consisted of half of a Canadian dollar, attached to a chain around his neck. This is the infamous dollar (aka ‘lucky loonie') which Ovechkin dug out of the ice in Quebec after winning the World Championship finals in 2008. Friend and teammate Ilya Nikulin then took the coin with him in order to split it into two parts, and apparently he recently completed this assignment. Ilya must have been in high spirits when he sawed the coin, or perhaps he did it in the middle of the night, because the ‘loonie' is cut in half in a zigzag. Nonetheless, Ovechkin must be pleased with the results for he has proudly added it to his collection of cervical accessories. It's quite a novel concept, considering it's an Olympic year.
Concerning recent spate of injuries to Olympic hopefuls, Ovechkin had the following to say:
"Ahh hell only knows. The season's just begun and the three best players are injured. God willing, Markunya (Andrei Markov) will have recovered in time for the Olympics. I also wish speedy recoveries for Gonchu and Kovalyu (Sergei Gonchar and Ilya Kovalchuk) of course. In hockey, nobody's safe from anything. Even during an Olympic year you can't play injured and regret it. If you're going to regret it, it's much better to simply say that you've hurt your leg and take a week's rest."
While your friend Semin was ill, did you keep far away from him?
"We didn't see him at all. He stayed at home the entire time."
The swine flu has basically caused a state of emergency in this country. The journalists had to wash their hands before they came into the locker room. Is it upsetting?
"We try not to pay any attention to it."
You weren't very aggressive at the start of today's game.
"We were sleeping a little bit in the first period and didn't take advantage of opportunities. More precisely, we really didn't have any opportunities. After our opponent knocked in two goals we woke up and started playing aggressively and kept the puck in their zone."
It seems your hard hit on Richards woke up the team.
"It was just a game moment. I don't even remember who I hit, Richards or Hartnell. As I recall, Hartnell was the one who jumped on my back. Anyway, these things happen."
In any case, the game kept the fans on the edge of their seats. Was it also enjoyable for the players?
"Of course, especially since we came back from a two goal deficit. Theodore was magnificent today. He really saved us."
You're not going to recognize your contributions?
"Backstrom gave me an excellent pass, and I was a little bit lucky. The puck jumped, and [Kimmo] Timonen blocked [Ray] Emery's view."
It seems that Philadelphia is one of your favorite opponents.
"Yeah, I really like to play against them. Especially away games. The fans there are nuts. It's always a good test for me and the team."
The team has now won five games in a row. Is it safe to say that the bad start is far behind you now?
"Really good teams have to be able to win even more than five games in a row."
Certainly you were following the statistics and knew that Kopitar and Gaborik got ahead of you in goal-scoring.
"You tell me about it all the time. All the time."
Nevertheless you can't be used to seeing some other names above yours on the list of snipers?
"Yeah well, my goal this season is to get farther in the playoffs than last year. And I've already won the awards for top goal scorer and point leader. It's better to win something new."
But there are other objectives-like the record book. At least Mogilny's record.
"I don't look at that. You can only think about such things at the end of the season."
Can you comment on the reunion of the Semin-Ovechkin-Backstrom line?
"Semin and I understand each other perfectly. He is more of a technical player, able to make a pass, and I'm more of a hit-and-run type player. These two things go great together."