Ovechkin to groin and bear it

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Alexander Ovechkin vows he won't miss his date with the Maple Leafs tomorrow night.

"I will play (tomorrow) and I will play in the Olympics," the flashy Washington Capitals rookie said yesterday, after skipping his first game of the year on Tuesday night with a sore groin.

His absence touched off speculation he might be hurting when Russia opens the Turin Olympics in two weeks.

"I want to play in this game against Toronto. I know the (TV viewers here) are crazy about hockey," he said.

Ovechkin was on a National Hockey League conference call, where he was recognized for being the league's offensive player of the month and rookie of the month for January. The 20-year-old left winger had 21 points in 14 games and scored perhaps the highlight goal of the year -- on his back -- against Phoenix on Jan. 6.

Ovechkin has 65 points this season, five more than Calder Trophy rival Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, before the latter faced the New York Rangers last night.

Caps goaltender Olaf Kolzig says Ovechkin is getting more comfortable in his surroundings.

"He is vocal to an extent," Kolzig said yesterday. "He likes to play disc jockey now and then. Our dressing room sounds like a Moscow night club some days."


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