The press is a fickle mistress. Like moths to the flame, they are inexorably drawn to the one who is shining brightest at the moment. Alex Ovechkin felt that firsthand after the recent Thrashers game when John Erskine and Matt Hendricks were getting all the post-game locker room love. Luckily, true droog Slava Malamud was there to make sure Ovi didn't get too lonely, and was able to get this nice little interview which was published in todays issue of Sport Express. If you still have a hankering for some more Ovi after finishing this, you can check out Alex Ovetjkin for a translation of some quick Q&A between Ovi and Sovetsky Sport.
To play badly yet still win certainly indicates quality. Or at least the difference in it between yourself and your opponent. In their last two games Washington has played badly yet still took three points out of four. Ergo, the team is good.
For example, in the most recent home game against Atlanta, the Caps totally blew the second period. The crowning moment of their incomprehensible exhibition was a blunder by Alexander Ovechkin on the power play. Letting the puck squirt into neutral ice, the Russian forward sped after it and then tried to turn through center and return to the blue line. And that's when he bumped into Andrew Ladd, who had inconspicuously closed in on him, and who immediately rushed the net with his partner to even the score.
But in the first period, Ovechkin scored in the second minute (the puck somehow found a hole in either the goaltender's equipment or his body), and then brilliantly played a two-on-one with Alexander Semin. Semin, by the way, continued his scoring series to eight games. And having finished off Atlanta in the third period, Washington continued the hallowed tradition of winning all games in which the Siberian scores (there are already nine such games this season).
The team's top scorer, Ovechkin, found himself in unfamiliar solitude after the game (reporters ran to talk with the heroes of the night-- the hirsute defenseman Erskine and forward Hendricks) and shared his impressions with your Sport Express correspondent.
If you play well, you win, and if you play not so well, you still make points. Is the regular season not becoming boring?
"No way! Our schedule is such that we played a lot of games against our division rivals. We've won them all and come away with six points from our main competitors. It's great, what can I say?"
This game turned out strange. The second period you totally blew it.
"I wouldn't say we blew it, but we made some mistakes. It's good that we got it together in the third period and won. In the second, of course, I made a big mistake and allowed them to score shorthanded."
You basically didn't see Ladd during that episode?
"Yeah, I just didn't notice him. But in any case I didn't have to turn to the center-it would have been better to simply discard the puck along the boards back to their zone. I thought I was long past Ladd, but I just looked up and he had already lifted my stick and was on his way."
But once again you played well with Semin in the first period. You guys have been playing really well together lately.
"Yeah, really good. We have a fantastic mutual understanding, and the coach knows that."
Fess up, you just want to help your best friend earn a new contract in Washington.
"(Smiles) And that too, of course. I would be very happy if Semin stays here. The fans really love him, and he himself is used to the team and the city. Well, it's all in his hands. And the GM. Basically, we will just hope."
Semin didn't make the list for candidates to the All Star Game. If you become Captain, will you choose him for your team?
"And how is all this done? I don't even know."
The fans vote for the six best from the list, and then the league selects the remaining stars, while the players vote for two captains, and they choose their own teams, by turns, like back in the schoolyard.
"Ah, well then I'd take Semin, of course. First pick! Where would I be without him?"
Malkin would be offended.
"I think there would be other suitors for Malkin."
What do you have to say about the idea of having a Russia-Canada Super Series in 2012, or a World Cup?
"That all depends on the schedule. The thing is that players might not be ready. For instance, in August many are just starting to get back on the ice, so it would be really difficult for them to play."
So what would you personally prefer- a Super Series or a World Cup?
"I think that the fans would prefer a Super Series, because that would be a historic confrontation. But for us, the players, we would prefer a tournament."
But surely for you a match against Canada would be worth more than all the others put together?
"I wouldn't say that. Right now the biggest rivalry is not Russia and Canada but the KHL and NHL."
I wonder on which side of this conflict do you see yourself?
"I still have a contract here for 11 years. But the point is that, as I said, many guys in the NHL might not be fundamentally ready. I know guys who do not go out on the ice at all until the beginning of September. Many would have to change their preseason training, which they have been doing for 10-15 years. This, you understand, is a problem."