Ovechkin is Mr. Excitement

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

No one has a better concept of how Alexander Ovechkin exploits the ice, wows the crowd and seals the deal than Olaf Kolzig.

The Washington Capitals netminder has watched admiringly as the 20-year-old rookie conjures highlight-reel goals, 34 and counting.

"He seems to top himself every week," Kolzig said of the kid dubbed most exciting NHLer by the Sun media panel. "He'll do a lot of things on the ice and he's establishing a bigger fan base, too. He's one of the guys the NHL really needs to make the game bigger and we're fortunate to have him on our team.

"He could've been standoffish with having to learn a new culture and language in North America. But he's diving in to the whole experience, head-first."

Ovechkin, the NHL's offensive player of the month in January, is not only magic with the puck, he's not afraid to go into the corners to get it.

"My father (Mikhail, an ex-pro soccer player in Russia), always bought me videos of (NHL) fights and hits," Ovechkin recalled. "He would tell me to hit, because if you didn't, you would be hit next time. On the ice, you have no friends.

"I knew it would be physical here in the NHL. My goal in Russia was to play hard and physical. I'm thrilled to play in the NHL. My dream has come true."

Ovechkin also credited his linemates and coach Glen Hanlon for easing his path in the NHL.

"My teammates gave me a path to score, my coach has put me on the power play and penalty killing. So I don't feel pressure."


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