Inside the mind of Ovechkin

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

Alexander Ovechkin isn't lacking for skill.

Or confidence.

Asked yesterday which NHL forward was the most difficult to play against, the young Washington Capitals superstar wasted little time in firing off a response.

"Me," he said.

Maybe he misunderstood the query. So the same question was asked of him again.

"Like I said, me," he replied, breaking into laughter.

Okay, so he has a keen sense of humour, too.

But there is no doubt that Ovechkin, the league rookie of the year, has a more serious side as well.

Keeping that in mind, here are Alexander The Great's choice as the toughest guys to play against, by position.

Forwards: "Other than me? There are probably three: Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings), Jaromir Jagr (New York Rangers) and Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Thrashers)." Grinning like a mischievous child, he added: "Of course, I'd still pick me."

Defencemen: "There are two; Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins) and Andrei Markov (Montreal Canadiens). I love to play against difficult defencemen because its a challenge. If you score goals it means you beat them."

Goaltenders: "Roberto Luongo. Right now he's the toughest." Then he smiled. "Thankfully I don't have to play against Oly," he said, referring to teammate Olaf Kolzig.

STAR STRUCK

With Ovechkin posed to make his first all-star game appearance next month, Capitals coach Glen Hanlon knows who he would like to see line up alongside the Big O. "Sidney Crosby," he said. "I think that's the matchup everybody wants. I'd be shocked if it didn't happen. I think there is mutual admiration between the two."

LOOSE LEAFS

In a pre-game ceremony, Paul Devorski was honoured for refereeing his 1,000th career game in the NHL. With his family standing at centre ice, the Leafs, Caps and the league all made presentations to the veteran official.


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