NHL 'Star Wars'

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

ARLINGTON, Va. -- If WWE guru Vince McMahon was promoting the upcoming Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins grudge match, the spin likely would go something like this.

"In the red corner, representing the nation's capital, the most electrifying figure in the sport, the man with the trade mark gap-toothed grin ... Alexander The Great!

"Over in the black corner, representing Steeltown, the young man considered The Next One for more than a decade ... Sid The Kid!

"And his tag team partner, also representing Steeltown via Russia, the Kremlin Kid, Evgeni Malkin!"

Is the hype being shovelled a little bit too thick? Perhaps. But don't forget: both Crosby and Malkin have a history with Ovechkin.

Ovechkin was the first overall pick in the 2004 NHL draft, taken one spot ahead of Malkin.

One year later, Crosby was the No. 1 selection.

Since that time, Crosby and Ovechkin have been considered the future faces of the sport. There is a rivalry here, whether either player wants there to be or not.

"Do I wake up hoping to see Ovechkin fail? No I don't," Crosby said. "He's a guy I play against. He's a great player. We're competitive against each other but there's an element there where the media puts us up against one another."

Of course we do. It's a natural.

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Especially when events happen like those of Feb. 22 in Washington when Ovechkin, having exchanged shoves and verbal barbs with Crosby, waved bye to the Pens captain after their run-in was over.

"Like it or lump it, that's what he does. Some people like it, some people don't. Personally I don't like it," Crosby said at the time.

Ovechkin's responded by claiming Crosby "talks too much."

In the subsequent weeks, Crosby's allegations were linked to Ovechkin's at-times over-the-top goal-scoring celebrations, a suggestion Crosby this week said was wrong.

I didn't like the way he was using his hands or the gestures he was making," Crosby explained, "It didn't have anything to do with goal celebrations. That was a totally made-up story.

"The taunting is what I didn't like about that."

As for Malkin, Ovechkin reportedly once took a swing at Malkin's Russian agent, Gennady Ushakov, at a Moscow night club. Then, during a game earlier this season, Ovechkin took runs at Malkin almost every shift they faced each other.

You want rivalries? You want feuds? You got them!

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Alex Ovechkin, LW

Age: 23

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 225 lbs.

Birthplace: Moscow

Drafted: 1st overall, 2004

2008-09 Regular Season: 79 GP, 56 G, 54 A, 110 PTS

Career Regular Season: 324 GP, 219 G, 201 A, 420 PTS

Career Playoffs: 14 GP, 7 G, 9 A, 16 PTS

THE SKINNY: "Ovi: has another key on his chain -- it's the key to the city of Washington, D.C., which he was given June, 13, 2008. A day earlier, he became the first player ever to win the Hart Trophy, Lester B. Pearson

Award, Art Ross Trophy and Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy all in the same season ... His mother, Tatiana, won two Olympic gold medals in basketball (1976, 1980). His father, Mikhail, is a former pro soccer player. And his brother, Mikhail, is the hockey-season roommate of the best player in

Washington Capitals history: Alex Ovechkin ... A portion of his $9 million salary goes to the purchase of eight Caps1 season tickets, which he donates

to soldiers and needy children as part of 3Ovi1s Crazy Eights2 program ... Has appeared on the cover of The Hockey News seven times, but the cover of The Washington Post Magazine just once ... His childhood hero was Alexander Maltsev, despite the fact the former Russian star was 36 the day Ovechkin was born ... Favourite sport other than hockey is basketball ... Favourite

foods are pasta and sushi ... Launched his own designer streetwear clothing line last June.

Alexander Semin, LW

Age: 25

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 205 lbs.

Birthplace: Krasnojarsk, Russia

Drafted: 13th overall, 2002

2008-09 Regular Season: 62 GP, 34 G, 45 A, 79 PTS,

Career Regular Season: 254 GP, 108 G, 108 A, 216 PTS

THE SKINNY: Was actually the Caps' second, first-round pick in 2002. They had back-to-back selections and took Steve Eminger right before him ... Caused a buzz with the following comments at the end of October, when he led the NHL in scoring with 16 points: "What's so special about Sidney Crosby? I don't see anything special there," said Semin. "Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, good pass. But there's nothing else."

Sidney Crosby, C

Age: 21

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 200 lbs.

Birthplace: Cole Harbour, N.S.

Drafted: 1st overall, 2005

2008-09 Regular Season: 77 GP, 33 G, 70 A, 103 PTS,

Career Regular Season: 290 GP, 132 G, 265 A, 397 PTS

Career Playoffs: 31 GP, 13 G, 27 A, 40 PTS

THE SKINNY: Averaged 2.51 points per game in his two-year Canadian Hockey League career with Rimouski of the QMJHL. It1s the second highest average in league history, behind Mario Lemieux1s 2.81 points per game with Laval, from 1981-84 ... His dad, goalie Troy Crosby, was drafted in the 12th round,

240th overall, by the Montreal Canadiens in 1984. He never made it to the pro level ... Sidney went on to live with Lemieux, a part-owner of the Penguins, in his first three NHL seasons ... Crosby became the youngest captain in NHL history when the Penguins gave him the 'C' for his 19-year, nine-month birthday present (give or take a few days). The previous youngest was Vincent Lecavalier, who was a captain at 19 years and 10 months ... Reciprocated by becoming the only teenage scoring champion in NHL history, while also winning the Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award, in the 2006-07 season ... The Penguins media guide lists his nickname as 'Sid.' Nowhere does it mention the origin of the nickname or reveal the creative mind that came up with it ... Steve Yzerman, who was once the youngest captain in NHL history, was his childhood hero ... His favourite food is Chinese ... Music-wise, he digs 3 Doors Down, Three Days Grace and Tim McGraw.

Evgeni Malkin, C

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 195 lbs.

Birthplace: Magnitogorsk, Russia

Drafted: 2nd overall, 2004

2008-09 Regular Season: 82 GP, 35 G, 78 A, 113 PTS,

Career Regular Season: 242 GP, 115 G, 189 A, 304 PTS

THE SKINNY: Led the NHL in scoring after finishing second last season to Alex Ovechkin ... Known to friends as Geno ... Boston s TD Banknorth Garden is his favourite road rink ... Lists billiards as his favourite sport, other than hockey, along with soccer ... Likes the Russian band Rouky Viergh.


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