Everybody knows what to expect from Alexander Ovechkin:
Power. Speed. Goal celebrations. Lots of them.
After practice Friday, Rangers coach Tom Renney talked about how some players are hard-skill players, such as Aaron Voros, who rely on size and strength but aren't natural scorers or playmakers, and some players are soft-skill players, who score almost at will.
Asked what Ovechkin is, Renney responded, "A combination of both. All of the above. He's a great player. You force him to defend, for starters. The big thing is to deflect him to the outside. If he's getting shots, make sure they're from the perimeter."
BY ANDREW GROSS, NorthJersey.com, Nov. 8, 2008 "Rangers respect Ovechkin":
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Nikolai Zherdev, the Rangers’ 23-year-old Ukrainian who is emerging as the team’s best and most creative offensive force, was asked whether he looked forward to facing Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals’ 23-year-old Russian superstar.
Defenseman Dmitri Kalinin translated the question into Russian for his teammate but Zherdev answered in English.
"No, it’s just a game," Zherdev said. "It’s two points."
Still, the Rangers (11-4-1) visit the Capitals tonight knowing they can’t let Ovechkin skate free and display his superior puck-handling and shooting skills.
"He likes to score goals, that’s what he wants to do," said Kalinin, who first saw the then-19-year-old Ovechkin’s potential when they were teammates on the Russian national team.
Of course, it’s more than Ovechkin that worries the Rangers. His two Russian linemates aren’t that bad, either.
While the left wing has two goals and six assists, 24-year right wing Alexander Semin has 10 goals and nine assists and scored twice in Thursday’s 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, including the winner with 11 seconds to go off Ovechkin’s assist. Center Sergei Fedorov, 38, has experienced a career renewal in Washington and has four goals and five assists.
"The best way to defend their line is to keep them in their zone," Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival said. "Don’t give them any odd-man rushes. You definitely want to be playing in [Ovechkin’s] face and make sure he doesn’t get any space."
"The big thing is to keep in front of him," Rangers coach Tom Renney added. "If you defend the puck, you’re in trouble."
"It’ll be a great test for us," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I think we’re going up against maybe the best team in the East."
Mike Vogel, capitals.nhl.com, Nov. 8, 2008:
Possible Line Combos and Defensive Pairings
New York Forwards
91-Naslund, 19-Gomez, 24-Callahan
10-Dawes, 23-Drury, 25-Prucha
13-Zherdev, 17-Dubinsky, 34-Voros
20-Sjostrom, 15-Betts, 28-Orr
New York Defensemen
Corey Masisak, TWT, Nov. 8, 2008 "Clark Out with Injury (Updated)":
Tyler Sloan has been recalled and looks like he will play tonight because Sergei Fedorov and Shaone Morrisonn are not on the ice. But the (potentially) big news is Chris Clark, who is on the ice but is in an orange jersey. No one else is, so this could mean he is either a) a healthy scratch or b) injured. Typically, orange is reserved for injured guys. More on this later.
Here are the lines:
UPDATE: When asked if he was a healthy scratch or injured, Clark replied, "I don't know yet. Talk to Bruce."
Also, Brent Johnson was the first goalie off the ice, which typically signifies being the starting netminder for the evening -- though Boudreau did "change his mind" one day and start Jose Theodore.
UPDATE: Bruce Boudreau said Clark is out with an undisclosed injury. He did have his wrist wrapped up. Tyler Sloan will play, while both Morrisonn and Fedorov are out. Here are the defense pairings:
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