Ovie's Fehr play

Winkler’s Eric Fehr celebrates his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins with superstar teammate...

Winkler’s Eric Fehr celebrates his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins with superstar teammate Alex Ovechkin Wednesday.

PAUL FRIESEN, Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

He scored his career-high 21st goal Wednesday night and is the only player on his team with his own radio show.

Somehow, though, the host of From Capital Hill, With Eric Fehr, on the air every Thursday in Winkler, Man., still isn’t the most popular member of the Washington Capitals.

Seems some Russian hotshot wearing No. 8 has that market cornered.

“Everywhere we go, you see in the newspaper it’s Alex Ovechkin versus the Carolina Hurricanes, or Alex Ovechkin versus the Penguins,” Fehr was saying from Carolina, Thursday. “It’s his team. He’s the leader of our team, and he’s the guy the fans want to see.”

Not that Fehr is complaining.

He’ll even give Ovechkin some of the credit for his career season.

Maybe it’s pure coincidence, maybe it’s not. But it appears the gap-toothed superstar has passed some of his magic to the former Wheat King from Winkler — through his stick.

You see, for the last couple of years Ovechkin had been bugging Fehr about his nearly-straight stick, suggesting he go to a more Ovechkin-like curve.

Nearly two weeks into this season, and still without a goal, Fehr finally gave in, grabbing one of Ovechkin’s sticks for a game against Atlanta.

His first shift, he scored.

“And I’ve used it ever since,” Fehr said. “It has his name on it and everything. I don’t even switch anything. I just leave it how it is.

“He loves it. Every time I score a goal, he always says, ‘It’s the stick, it’s the stick.’ He doesn’t let me forget about it.”

Let’s give Fehr his due, though. He was scoring goals — 59 in one season in Brandon — long before he met Ovechkin.

And when you consider his condition last summer, when double shoulder surgery left him unable to even feed himself for days and off skates for four months, passing the 20-goal mark is remarkable.

“It was huge, just to get my confidence back that I could be a scorer again,” Fehr said of the milestone. “I feel healthy and like I can contribute on a regular basis. That’s a good feeling.”

When you’re part of the first-place team in hockey, surrounded by world-class talent, even better.

The Caps had lost just four of their last 28 games, not including shootouts, going into Thursday night’s tilt in Carolina.

“Our team’s playing with the most confidence we’ve ever played with,” Fehr said. “We have a lot of fun, on and off the ice. It’s a great group of guys.”

And they’re 3-0 against Pittsburgh, including Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout win, in which Fehr potted No. 21.

Which begs the question: who’s the team to beat in the East, Sidney Crosby and the defending champion Pens or Ovechkin’s first-place Caps?

“It’s hard to say,” Fehr said. “I have a feeling we’re going to be running into each other a lot in playoffs in years to come. The (games) are definitely getting chippy, and they’re getting physical. It’s getting close to playoff hockey — you can feel it.”

The Caps can feel the excitement in the full houses Ovechkin generates wherever they go.

Fehr says No. 8 does something to amaze him “every couple of games,” whether it’s a goal at the right time or a move he’s never seen before.

No doubt he gets a few questions about Ovechkin on his radio show.

But, surely, now that he’s a 20-goal scorer, Fehr gets some love in Washington, too.

“Guys are asking me for sticks to get autographed,” Fehr acknowledged. “But they don’t want it autographed by me. They just want me to give them a blank stick so they can go get it signed by Ovechkin.”

Such is life in the shadow of Alexander the Great.

paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca


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