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января 2006 года.
Penguins Notebook: Ovechkin may have trophy edge on Crosby // Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
By Dave Molinari
Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are the only NHL rookies to lead their teams in scoring this season and -- what a coincidence -- they are the top two candidates for the Calder Trophy, which goes to the league's top first-year player.
Ovechkin, who leads rookies in points (62) and goals (33), appears to have nudged past Crosby in that race, at least for now, and he has done it without any great help from his supporting cast.
Ovechkin is the only Capital with more than 25 points, and he has more goals than any three teammates combined.
Clearly, he has been the go-to guy for Washington, which will face the Penguins at 7:38 p.m. today at Mellon Arena, although being the Capitals' lone big-time threat hasn't impeded his production.
"It doesn't seem to have hurt him, has it?" Penguins right winger Mark Recchi said. "It's pretty amazing, what he's done. He's obviously a terrific, terrific player."
Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar played against Ovechkin in the Russian Super League last winter and saw enough of him there to anticipate that Ovechkin would thrive in the NHL.
"He has the whole package," Gonchar said. "He has everything."
Ovechkin won't surpass Teemu Selanne's rookie record of 76 goals, but Mike Bossy, who stands second on that list with 53, is reachable. Especially with the way Ovechkin starts fast (he has scored game-opening goals a league high nine times) and finishes strong (he has an NHL-best six shootout goals).
Although this will be just the Penguins' second look at Ovechkin, he made quite an impression in a 5-4 loss Nov. 22 at Mellon Arena. He had a goal in that game, and showed the Penguins why he's able to score so consistently.
"You can tell he competes very hard and wants to be successful," Recchi said. "Like Sid. I think that's why these kids are that good. They really want to do well. They really want to compete. And they really want to be difference-makers."
Penguins coach Michel Therrien has not divulged his strategy for trying to contain Ovechkin.
There's a good chance, though, that Recchi will spend a lot of time opposite him, and he believes that there are a few keys to effective damage-control against elite goal-scorers.
"You're never going to actually shut them down," Recchi said.
"The biggest thing is, you have to take time and space away. You have to be on them. Being close to him is never good enough. You have to be beside him. You have to have a stick on his stick.
"Those great shooters, they don't need that much space. Like [Brett Hull] and Glen Murray and [Ilya] Kovalchuk. They need a foot, and they get a shot away. And if they get those shots, chances are it's going in, or it's going to create a lot of problems."
Crosby not discouraged
Losing 10 games in a row, as the Penguins have, can do terrible things to a team's psyche.
Crosby, though, is adamant that the frustration created by this slump has not corroded the Penguins' commitment to improving. And perhaps to winning a few games in the process.
"We're working the hardest we have all year right now," he said.
"We're on the same page, and everyone's pulling the same way. That's encouraging, especially when you're going through times like this. If we stay like this, we're going to be fine.
"If guys can look themselves in the mirror and know that they've left it all out there, that's all you can do. For the most part, we've been doing that."
Capitals cut their losses
The Capitals have one of the worst records in the NHL and have had trouble attracting fans to the MCI Center.
The team is a lock to lose money this season, but Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is taking that news rather well, perhaps because he knows from experience that it could be worse.
"We will lose about $5 million, which is great news for us considering we lost $35 million one year and $25 million last time we played," he said in an e-mail to the Washington Post.
Leonsis, who bought the Capitals for $85 million in 1999, credited a
relatively low payroll and the prospect of getting $5 million to $10 million
in revenue-sharing funds for improving the franchise's bottom line.
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