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Ovechkin Talks

Alexander Ovechkin participated in a tele-conference today....
Q. Why do European players like the bigger curve? ALEX OVECHKIN: I don't know. Maybe for shot. Maybe it's different controlling the puck, I don't know. For me, it's more the shot. If I have bigger curve, I can shoot faster, you know, faster and stronger. Q. Can you describe your first fight with Mike Richards. ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, it was normal thing for NHL. It was my second fight. I don't like to fight actually. I don't know how I fight. I don't know, for me, lose or win, for me it doesn't matter. I just try to protect my partners. It's a normal thing. Q. Is it difficult for you in that you do not have an established National Hockey League center to play with in Washington, say a center who has played in the League for five years or 10 years or anything like that? ALEX OVECHKIN: We have very good center, Dainius Zubrus. Last year we played together, we know our game. He knows me, I know him. If I have the puck, I know where he is when we go to the attac k zone. If he's yelling, I know where his stick is. The same situation when he has the puck. He knows where my stick is always. We understand each other.

Q. Can you just talk a little bit about what your expectations are for the Capitals as a team and for yourself in your second NHL season?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, our team keeps on getting better. We’ve got some good players. Our goal right now: go to playoffs. My goal is the same: Work like last year, try to play hard all the time, try to score goals, and try to work to help team to win.
Q. They’re going to allow more curvature of the stick. Do you think that will have any impact at all on the game? Will you expand the curve on your stick?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, last year I used a little bit not normal stick, but I think it will help the European players more than American and Canadian players, because Canadian and American players play more with a straight curve. European players like the bigger curve.
Q. Why do European players like the bigger curve?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I don’t know. Maybe for shot. Maybe it’s different controlling the puck, I don’t know. For me, it’s more the shot. If I have bigger curve, I can shoot faster, you know, faster and stronger.
Q. Can you describe your first fight with Mike Richards.
ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, it was normal thing for NHL. It was my second fight. I don’t like to fight actually. I don’t know how I fight. I don’t know, for me, lose or win, for me it doesn’t matter. I just try to protect my partners. It’s a normal thing.
Q. Is it difficult for you in that you do not have an established National Hockey League center to play with in Washington, say a center who has played in the League for five years or 10 years or anything like that?
ALEX OVECHKIN: We have very good center, Dainius Zubrus. Last year we played together, we know our game. He knows me, I know him. If I have the puck, I know where he is when we go to the attac k zone. If he’s yelling, I know where his stick is. The same situation when he has the puck. He knows where my stick is always. We understand each other.
Q. In your rookie season you became one of the big stories of the League. What was that like for you? Did the attention ever get to you? Was it too much?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, it was attention. But, you know, I just try to concentrate about just hockey. You know, I concentrate hockey all the time. I come home, just relax. If I go to the movies, I watch the movie, not think about what I must do the next game. I see lots of people watching me, Washington Capitals trust me. They just tell me, don’t worry about it, go to ice and play how you can. I think this is the biggest thing, if coach says don’t worry, just go on ice and enjoy your time right now.
Q. Sidney Crosby was in the same boat with you. Do you kind of think of yourself as the guys in like the same class? Do you talk about what that was like?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, we talked about him lots of times. You know, he is a good player. He did a great job last year. He deserved the rookie of the year, too. But I’m glad I win. You know, last year I just come here, nobody knows me. Everybody knows Crosby, Crosby, television, radio. Whole hockey world, Crosby, Crosby. I come here. You know, Russian hockey, Ovechkin can play better like Canadian, like Crosby.
Q. I know in addition to being a great hockey player, you’re also a fan of the game. Do you have any thoughts on who might win the Calder Trophy this year?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, I hope Malkin wins the Calder Trophy, but you never know.
Q. Coming back to this rivalry between you and Sidney Crosby, how much did it push you to give even more of what you can give game after game?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, when Washington played Pittsburgh, everybody talked about me and Sidney. You know, it was great attention, great feelings. Everybody watch only two people, me and Crosby. But, you know, hockey is a team game.
Q. Now that everybody has seen what you can do, do you think the expectations will be even greater for you this year?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Everybody talks to me like the second year will be harder, will not be as good as last year. You know, if you play the same as last year, it will be the same, you know? It’s just physical. I just don’t think about it, go on ice and play.
Q. Alexander Semin, what can you tell us about this guy?
ALEX OVECHKIN: He’s a good player, has great hands. He’s very, very hard player. He is tough. He has an unbelievable shot.
Q. Could you talk about your new captain, Chris Clark, what he’s like, if you’re going to be watching him to kind of get used to maybe somebody taking over that role.
ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, you know, last year we had a great captain, Jeff Halpern, but he didn’t stay. Last year there were a couple of guys who already were leaders in our locker room, Olie (Kolzig) and Clarkie. You know, not one guy, everybody was our leader. But these guys, you know, were the biggest leaders. Clarkie I think is our leader on the ice and off the ice. I agree that he is our captain.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Evgeni Malkin. Obviously he’s hurt, but the expectation when he comes back, he’s going to have the sort of impact that you or Crosby had last year. Can you describe how you think he’ll play this season?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, he’s big, he’s strong. First of all, he’s an unbelievable person. Pittsburgh picked themselves a great young guy. Crosby, Malkin. Malkin, an unbelievable passer. He can score unbelievable. He’s a very good player.

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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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