Caps' kid all right

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- There is no Mario Lemieux around to feather those beautiful seeing-eye passes directly on to his stick.

No Ziggy Palffy to feed for one-timers. No Mark Recchi creating open ice for him.

In that regard, rookie Alexander Ovechkin is at a disadvantage in his battle with Sidney Crosby in the hunt for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top freshman.

NO EXCUSES

Sid The Kid obviously enjoys a much better supporting cast in Pittsburgh than Alexander The Great has in Washington with the Caps, although you won't hear Ovechkin use that as an excuse.

In the end, the first overall pick in the 2004 entry draft simply wants to be judged by his play, not hype.

While Crosby may have captured NHL rookie of the month honours for October, the supremely talented and competitive Ovechkin is not about to allow himself to take a back seat to anyone.

"I think every first-year player wants to win this (Calder) trophy," said Ovechkin, whose Capitals play host to the Maple Leafs today at the MCI Center. "I want that trophy, but right now I am concentrating on the team. The team always comes first.

"(Crosby) is a great player. I just have to keep improving. We will see who is better over an entire season."

Ovechkin and Crosby will go head-to-head in 16 days when the Caps travel to the Igloo to meet the Penguins.

"It's just a game," Ovechkin said. "Okay, maybe a special one."

Ovechkin himself is a special one. Just ask the Atlanta Thrashers' Mike Dunham, who was humiliated by the 20-year-old Russian during a shootout here inWashington Friday night.

As he skated in on Dunham, Ovechkin momentarily lifted one of his legs off the ice, then deked and juked about five times before slipping the puck into the net.

The highlight-reel goal gave the young Caps a hard-earned 3-2 victory and spread confidence throughout the dressing room entering their tilt against the Leafs.

"I think we can score more,"said Ovechkin, who has eight goals and five assists in 13 games. "We just have to play as hard as we can, and maybe we can do something special."

After just six weeks in the NHL, Ovechkin already has.


Videos

Photos