Via the NHL, today's conference call with Alex Ovechkin:
Q. Can talk about your line with (Nicklas) Backstrom and (Alexander) Semin and whether you're having as much fun as you've ever had in the NHL?
ALEX OVECHKIN: We have so much fun out there. And we just control the game. I think we pass to each other and we create some moments. We play all the time in the attack zone. If something happened with me or Semin or Backstrom, like someone doesn't feel great, different guys take the game and control the game. So it's very cool.
Q. What are your thoughts on Alex Semin, who has had a breakthrough this year in terms of his production?
ALEX OVECHKIN: What I can say about his game, he's great right now. And I wish he'd go push for it all the time. And we've played only 15, I don't know how many games, but just the beginning. And I hope he's going to play the same way all year.
Q. I was just wondering if you think you can win the East or is the team too young? I know it's a formidable task, but do you think you guys could do it?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, we want to win everything. And our goal is not just to be playing, but we want to be the top team in the League.
Q. Who do you think is going to be the toughest to pass, Montreal, Pittsburgh, the Rangers?
ALEX OVECHKIN: It's just the beginning of the year. We have a goal and we want to go there, and we don't care about a team like Montreal or Pittsburgh. They have a great team, great young guys, great talent, but we think about ourselves and we think about our game.
Q. I'm just wondering, over the last few years since the lockout we've seen guys like you and Sidney (Crosby) and Patrick Kane have excellent rookie seasons and some of the rookies this year have had a tougher time. I was wondering what is the toughest part for a rookie to adjust to the NHL?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I think the change in game, change in mentality. You go to the team and you know this is the NHL and probably all the young guys dream to play in NHL, and it's hard to realize that you're in the NHL. It's no more little kids, no more take the puck, beat five guys and the goalie and put it in the net.
It's hard work here, and nobody gives you easy ways. You have to fight. You have to live for this, you know.
Q. What do you remember about your trip to the West Coast as a rookie, and are you looking forward to that trip?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Yes, I'm looking forward to this trip. It's a great city, Los Angeles, and San Jose. We don'tt play a lot against these teams. But it's going to be pretty cool time for our team.
Q. Talk a little bit about the Southeast Division. Since your rookie year, do you feel as though the division has improved? Has it become more of a force in the League?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, of course. Like you can see our team, first of all, is moving forward all the time. We are just going up. And so I think right now we are doing well.
Q. With the addition of Sergei Fedorov last year, you've had the opportunity now to play with him for a year. How has Sergei helped your game on or off the ice?
ALEX OVECHKIN: You know, first of all he's Russian and we can speak the same language. And we can speak about everything, about hockey and about life. And he's won everything. He won the Olympic gold, World Championships, Stanley Cup. And he's one of the greatest Russian players in history. And to play with him on the same team, same line, it's a big honor me.
Q. I was wondering how you're feeling now. Your season got off to a bit of a slow start and then you had to go back to Russia for family reasons. Was that all part of the start of the season and now how do you feel now kind of coming out of it?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I feel great. I feel free right now, and I'm right now enjoying my time again. I just think about the game and I think about the team, and I think about what I have to do better.
Q. Was that weighing on your mind early in the season, was that a part of it?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Yes, it was a hard time for me. Always thinking what's going on over there. But right now it's done and I know it's fine. I know he's probably better. But it's life. And I tell myself you can do nothing, just pray for him. But you can do nothing right now.
Q. I wanted to ask you about your CCM Vector sticks. How many do you go through during a season?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I go through a lot. And like last year was good, but this year they're breaking again. But I don't know what's going to happen. But they are just broken and I don't know what I have to do.
Q. Follow-up question. During a key penalty kill or a power play during the playoffs, would you ever consider switching over to a wooden stick?
ALEX OVECHKIN: A wood stick?
ALEX OVECHKIN: No. It's not the same as - it's not the 60s, the 70s, it's right now 2010. Not 50 years ago, old sticks and stuff.
Q. What do you think about Nicklas Backstrom so far this season?
ALEX OVECHKIN: He had a slow start like me. I don't know the reason why. Right now he just wake up and he makes great passes, makes some points, and I think he'll wake up again.
Q. What does it mean to have Michael Nylander back on the team after missing him last season?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Mike's an experienced guy. Working hard all the time. And he's a special player. And you have to get open for him.
Q. While you were gone in Russia you missed quite a bit of controversy after your linemate talked about Sidney Crosby. I wonder if when you came back to Washington if you were a little surprised and what you think of all that, when Semin made those comments about Crosby through the translator?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I think it's just the translator and about media guys, about you. And you always want to say something to fire up somebody. I talked to him about it. And he said it was just a bad translation. And if nothing is happening, you just want to show something to the people to read the newspaper, go to the Internet, talking about it and something like that. I think everybody knows who Sidney Crosby is and how he can play hockey and how he's good.
Q. But I guess regardless of whether he meant to say it or not, it added another kind of layer of the rivalry between the two teams. The games between Washington and Pittsburgh are fun to watch. And I guess it should be much the same on January 14 when you guys play again.
ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah, it's always fun to play against a great team. And especially against a great player. And it's always a big challenge for you. It's always a big step. And it's always, you can see how good a team you are and how personally you are good.
Q. You mentioned 2010 and soon it will be 2010. What are your thoughts for playing Russia in the Olympic Games?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I think everybody wants to play in the Olympics, first of all. I want to play over there. I think everybody wants to represent their country in the Olympics, doesn't matter where. Whether it's a championship, wherever you are, you still represent your country, where you're from.
I think it's always good when you have a chance to play for a country and always good when you just go somewhere and see the people, see your old linemates, old friends, and you can talk to them and have fun over there.
Q. Which team do you think is favored? Do you think Russia is?
ALEX OVECHKIN: In the Olympics, you never know. In the world championships you can say like probably five teams, fight for the gold medal. But in Canada, I don't know.
Q. I was just wondering, goaltending is such an important position in the NHL. How confident are you with the consistency you can get between the two goalies you have in Jose Theodore and Brent Johnson, considering both have had two strong games recently, including Theodore, who relieved Johnson last night. How confident are you in your ability to get consistency in the net from those two guys?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Johnny (Brent Johnson) played, I think, four games and got injured. Theodore goes into the net he makes big saves. And we feel like we have two pretty good goalies and they can save us.
Q. Just to go back a few questions. You mentioned the slow start from Backstrom, and you also mentioned yourself as well. Is there a reason for that? How do you see yourself getting out of that?
ALEX OVECHKIN: How can I see it? Just push myself to work hard. I still, like you saw in that game, I still have lots of shots. I still have hits. I still have a moment to score goals. But we just didn't score goals. And this is the reason why I think we have a slow start. And I think we don't have slow start, we have a nice start, but we didn't score.
But now it's changed. And Backstrom scored, made points. I scored. Semin had a tremendous game. And I think we just tore it up, and we just scored goals.
It happens sometimes. You have some periods in the season like you can score, you can make some points. You just start thinking about what do I have to do better, what do I have to do something special, maybe, you just concentrate about your personal game. But it's just a couple games.
Q. Do you think after last year's phenomenal season that more teams are just focusing on you after the 60-plus goal season?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I don't know. Maybe. But I told you I still have a great chance to score goals and it's more important.