EDMONTON - Alex Ovechkin is just as excited to see Edmonton as it is to see him.
OK, that might be stretching it a bit. Catching a glimpse of Ovechkin in Western Canada is like catching a glimpse of Bigfoot watching a solar eclipse with Daryl Katz.
“They don’t get a chance to see Alex very much, so there’s always a buzz,” said Washington coach Bruce Boudreau, after the Caps wrapped up their skate at Rexall Place. “I remember last year in Vancouver it was like the Beatles hitting North America.”
Nevertheless, Ovechkin is still a hockey fan and, as such, is curious to see what these young Oilers are all about.
“Two years in a row they won the first-round draft pick, and (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) scored a hat trick in his third game,” said the Russian superstar. “It’s a young team that enjoys playing. They have experienced guys. They have a goalie who won a Stanley Cup. They’re good.”
Ovechkin, first overall in 2004, looks at the Oilers now and sees a little bit of the Capitals then.
“It’s always nice to see when young kids come into the league and they dominate. I remember when I was 19 or 20, everybody was so excited to play against us because we had a young team. Right now they have the same kind of situation.”
Those comments come as a surprise to Taylor Hall, who earlier in the day said he doubts Ovechkin even knows who he is.
“I know him. I met him a couple of times,” grinned Ovechkin. “I met him last year at the All-Star game. He probably forgot about it, though. He’s a superstar, he doesn’t know small guys like me.”
But seriously, folks, for Nugent-Hopkins and Hall, who’ll both be playing their first ever games against Washington, this is one of those welcome-to-the-NHL nights they expect to remember for a long time. Hopefully in a good way.
“He plays with a reckless style, a lot of emotion, that’s the way I like to play the game,” said Hall, who was out with an injury when the Oilers visited the Caps last March. “I’m not saying I’m trying to pattern my game after him, but he’s fun to watch.”
“It’s going to be pretty cool playing against Ovechkin,” added Nugent-Hopkins. “I’ve been watching him for a long time. He’s a really dynamic player and it always seems like he’s working really hard out there. He has a heck of a shot.”
All Jordan Eberle remembers about his first experience withacwthe Washington Capitals is that it wasn’t pretty, for anyone. Ovechkin had two goals and an assist, the Oilers got crushed and Sam Gagner slit his hand open on a skate blade and was done for the season.
“I haven’t played Crosby yet, we missed him last year because of the concussion, and this year, too,” he said of his exposure the two best players in the league. “But I remember Ovechkin because we went into their barn and got shellacked 5-0. They’re so dynamic, you make mistakes they’re going to get a great chance out of it.”