Friday, December 31, 2010

Alexander Ovechkin Speaks After Friday's Winter Classic Practice

Q. What's it like to be smack dab in this rivalry, the face of this rivalry where players are even using the word hatred to describe some of this rivalry?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, it's a good moment for us. It's going to be a good moment. Right now we're positive about it and we have great players and every game against Brooks, it's a big challenge for us. But right now it's going to be good.

Q. Mario Lemieux said today that Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world. Do those comparisons drive you at all, motivate you at all?

ALEX OVECHKIN: I think as time goes on, I think they choose the position but it's still top 10.

Q. You seem to be having fun with your friends out there on the ice. What is the atmosphere just in general, from the moment you guys pulled in on the bus, what it's been like for you?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, the atmosphere is great. And it's too bad it was not open practice for fans. But it's good. We have family and friends with us. And we just chill over there before the big game, so it's good.

Q. We know that the league will make a decision most likely to move the game to 8:00 o'clock tomorrow night, and if that happens, what do you think about that? Do you think that's better? Do you think there are certain things that make it more exciting?

ALEX OVECHKIN: I don't know about that, but for me, it's better if it's going to be evening because it's like we have a game almost every time at 7:00. So if it's going to be at 8:00, it's going to be okay, because you can sleep. You can eat normal food like, you know, steaks, spaghetti, and just take a nap before the game. If it's going to be at 8:00, you can celebrate New Years, too.

Q. What are your New Year's plans?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah. (Laughter)

Q. I know some of your teammates were a little concerned about the ice conditions today. We're probably going to have a lot of rain before you get to playing on it tomorrow. Any thoughts on the ice and is it a risk in terms of injury?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, ice was not that good, but we still have 24 hours. And if it's going to be the same, what can we do? We have to play. If it's going to be better, it's going to be better. So we don't have any choices.

Q. Alex, why do you think that you've struggled or not produced as much as you usually do? Do you think you're starting to come out of that now after the last couple of games?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Of course I have an empty net goal, so I feel pretty good.

Q. What were the reasons for that, do you think?

ALEX OVECHKIN: The reason's it's all about me. I have a chance to score goals, I have to score it. If I didn't score it, people are going to say: Okay, he's not scoring. He's not that good anymore. And if I start scoring again like that, I'm going to make a point streak like 10 games, everything's going to be back and I'm not worried about it.

I'm just worried about right now like my conditioning, my ? what's going to happen in the future in a couple of months. It's the most important thing for me right now.

Q. Do you feel like teams are defending you differently? Do you feel like forwards are now applying more back?pressure and that's hurting you a little bit?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah. You can see the game changing down the line. And me, Backi and Knubs and Sasha, when we play against teams, if I have a puck I have two guys around me all the time. And the third guy come behind me and slash me or do something like that. So, again, we just have to find a way what we have to do.

Like we talked to Bruce about it. We talked to Backi, and, again, it's something new for us, because we never had the situation before when our line was struggling a little bit.
But again, time will move forward and we are going to find a way how we have to play against this strategy, I think.

Q. When you're playing these games against the Penguins, we all, know there's a buildup for this, especially for this one, but even for the others, so there's a difference there. But when you're playing these games, does it feel different on the ice? Do you get that sense that the intensity is even higher, that the ice is even harder to come by because of that?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, I think when you have a sold?out crowd, when you have coaches, trainers, all the players concentrate on the game, the media get more attention for this match. And you get more excited and you get more involved with it.

When you compare ? if you play against Pittsburgh and against Atlanta, you know, it's two different teams and different atmosphere.

So it's kind of hard, but it is what it is. So we always want to play against good teams. And when you got a good crowd, it's the most important thing. The crowd gets into the game, you'll get into the game too right away.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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