Ovechkin's coach, Bruce Boudreau, understands why kids are so smitten with "Ovie."
"There's a lot to love," Boudreau says. "Here's a guy ... when you're 10 years old, all you want to do is play hockey on the ponds from morning till night, 'cause you love to play. And now you take it to the NHL and here's a guy that looks like he wants to do the same thing all the time."
What does he love so much about hockey?
"First of all, you guys," Ovechkin tells a media mob, to laughter, before the game.
Ovechkin goes on to say he likes "the action, the goals, the fans, the atmosphere." Not that there was much in Washington right after the 2004-05 lockout.
Ovechkin and a winning Capitals team have turned that around.
How does he feel after he scores a goal?
"I feel like I want more," he says.
Russian superstars are considered an enigmatic bunch -- how else to explain their lack of international success in recent years despite an awesome array of talent? But Boudreau insists Ovechkin is coachable. A few games ago, Ovechkin returned to the bench after a careless play and Boudreau ripped into him. Ovechkin took it in stride.
"He's screaming all the time, probably," Ovechkin says, "because maybe he's nervous or sometimes doesn't like what our line is doing."
In private, Boudreau talked to Ovechkin about a particular mistake Ovechkin had been making, with some frequency.
"He has never done it since," Boudreau says, with pride. "Not once. He's fabulous. It's unbelievable how good he is (to coach)."
In this country, Crosby gets more attention than Ovie.
"I don't know if it irritates him," Boudreau says. "Crosby has had the buildup. He's Canadian. He's everything. But you look at the two guys on the ice, who looks like they have more fun doing their job?"
The great ones in any sport, Boudreau says, want the puck or the ball with the game on the line.
"Alex is one of those," Boudreau says.