Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 03/04/08 at 08:55 PM ET
The NHL hosted a press conference call this afternoon with Washington Capitals star, Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin reached the 50-goal mark for the second time in his three NHL seasons Monday, scoring a hat trick [video] and adding two assists in Washington’s 10-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. Ovechkin reached the milestone in his team’s 67th game of the season, the fastest since the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux (59th game) and the Buffalo Sabres’ Alexander Mogilny (63rd game) in 1995-96.
The player below provides the audio of that conference call. A written transcript will be made available shortly.
Update 6:28pm ET: Transcript now available below.
Q. Six goals in that first period, you getting a hat trick in that period. Were you pretty shocked, sitting in the locker room saying, Up 6-0 already?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah, I was pretty shocked. I think whole team was pretty shocked. But, you know, I think Boston is a great team. That night, everything went into the net. Thank God not our net, but Boston net.
We were pretty excited and pretty happy because we beat a great team.
Q. When Bruce Boudreau took over as head coach you were dead last in the league. Now you’re one of the best teams in the National Hockey League. What has Bruce done differently, what kind of attitude has he instilled into the hockey club that has made your team better?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, especially I think the key is he knows the guys very well because he was coaching in Hershey, and lots of guys play in Hershey. He knows how he has to use some players. You know, he just changed our mentality, like we are not losers, we are good players, we are a good team, and we can beat anybody we want if we play how we can play.
We improve. We beat Ottawa 4 times. Four games we play against Ottawa and we beat them 4-0. We play good against anybody. He tell us it’s all about us. Like if you want to do something, you just have to play our system and play how we can and believe in yourself.
Q. A Russian player has never won the scoring championship. What would that mean to you if you won?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I will be happy. Like I have great chance to win the scoring. But, you know, it’s nice.
Q. Is there anything that makes you more excited than scoring a goal?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah. Score goals I think for forwards, it’s like big goal for you, you know. When I score goals, I’m very happy. When we win the game I’m happy, too.
Q. When you weren’t scoring there for about the seven games in a row, were you thinking, What happened? All of a sudden what happens when you go seven games without a goal?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I just try to pass, just try to assist my partners (laughter).
Q. Were you looking at your sticks, your hands? What happens when you go that long without scoring?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I look at everything because I think the players who love score goals, whose job is to score goals don’t score lots of games, they just try figure out what’s going on, maybe luck, maybe something go out.
So I just tell myself, I talk to Bruce, I talk to my family, they say, Hey, don’t worry about it, just keep going, keep play simple and goals is coming.
So a couple games I was nervous a little bit. After, I don’t know, probably Tampa game when we won, I just tell myself, Okay, just play how you can, do what you can and, you know, try help team what you can do, like hit the guys, try (indiscernible) shots if you cannot score goals. Do something, but don’t just concentrate about goal.
Q. Over the years ‘50’ has been a magical number for goals in the NHL. Does that mark have any significance for you?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I think it’s not for me. It’s all players want to score 50 goals or something like that because it’s very hard to do. You know, it’s NHL, and it’s hard. Especially when you score 50 goals, you are happy. I’m actually happy, very happy right now.
Q. Are you the kind of guy that keeps the puck for that kind of milestone or anything?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah, I keep the puck. I give my trainer guys pucks. So they keep it.
Q. Do you have a special spot at your house for that?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah, in my house, I put it in the wall.
Q. I guess you would have yours from the first time around when you did it as a rookie?
ALEX OVECHKIN: First time, first pucks I have in my wall there, too.
Q. You’re only in your third season now. No telling how many goals you’ll score this year. Do you ever have any idea in mind of how many goals you could potentially score one year? 70, 80 goals?
ALEX OVECHKIN: No, you never know. Like yesterday I can’t even imagine I score three goals in the first period. You know, sometimes, like I told, everything can go in. Sometimes you have empty net and you miss the empty net. You never know when you score goal.
Q. About 15 years ago in Vancouver we had a player named Pavel Bure, who scored goals like you and celebrated like you. Did you ever see him play live before his knee injuries or did you see video of him?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I saw video. He was one of the greatest Russian players in history. Especially I remember the moment in Olympic Games when he score five goals against Finland. He was great.
Q. Was he the type of player you would like to be when you saw him?
ALEX OVECHKIN: No, I just want to be myself. You know, I think everybody have own style. Bure is Bure. Me is me. Semin is Semin. Everybody have their own style.
Q. What are some of your thoughts about chasing 60 goals? How exciting is it? You’re chasing playoffs, chasing 60. What is going through your mind?
ALEX OVECHKIN: You know, it’s all in my mind right now to help team win because we have situation we can push forward and we can go forward.
If I score goal and we win, I will be happy. But, you know, right now it’s all about win. You know, it’s all about winning. If I score 60 and we go to playoffs, I will be very happy.
Q. If you score 60 and the team still falls short, does the 60 still mean as much?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, personally, of course, you know, when you score lots of goals, when you have lots of points, it’s good. But it’s not good for the team, you know. Maybe some fans, maybe some people will think, Oh, he’s selfish, he just want to score goals, he don’t want to win.
I don’t want to look like selfish, you know.
Q. What do you think you guys are going to have to do to catch Carolina and what you think your chances are right now?
ALEX OVECHKIN: You know, we have chances, it is up to us.
Q. How are the new guys fitting in with the young guys on the team.
ALEX OVECHKIN: We have young guys and we have great experience guys, especially Sergei Fedorov. He won everything. He’s great experience guy. He’s unbelievable player. He’s unbelievable guy in locker room, you know. He’s 38, but he’s still young. He’s just great. And Huet like play well. He saved puck. He make unbelievable save. Right now I think we have best goalie in the league. Matt Cooke score very important goals for us last night, first goal. You know, team move forward after his goal. So the team just have great players, new guys, they help us a lot. You know, we just pretty excited about it.
Q. You’ve taken way more shots than any other player in the league, almost 70 more shots than any other player in the league. What percentage do you think you should score on? If you’re taking six shots a game, how many goals should you get? You’ve had 355 shots in like 67 games. You’re about 20%. Is that a good percentage to score on?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I’ll be happy if I score hundred percent. But, you know, I score right now 52 and I’m happy. You know, let’s hope I shooting. Sometimes you have to keep on shooting. If you don’t shoot, you never score goal.
Q. So you would shoot from anywhere? You figure you can score from anywhere on the ice?
ALEX OVECHKIN: No, not like from anywhere. If I have a chance, I’m always shooting.
Q. Always shooting rather than passing?
ALEX OVECHKIN: No. If I see my partner’s better position, I give my partner.
Q. From where you guys started to where you are now, are you surprised that this time is in the playoff race right now?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Actually, we not surprised. We have a great team. We support each other. We play for each other. We know our goal. We just have to continue knowing what to do, you know, don’t do some mistakes because when you do mistakes, you take the mistakes and do something good, better, you know.
Q. How were you feeling when the team was going through a rut at the beginning of the season? Did you think the season would straighten out?
ALEX OVECHKIN: No, it was the beginning of the year. We knew we have lots of games. It’s all in our hands.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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