By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Eight months after becoming the first rookie of the year in franchise history, Washington Capitals star left wing Alex Ovechkin received another major honor yesterday when he was voted into the starting lineup for the NHL All-Star Game.
Ovechkin will be Washington's first starter since Rod Langway played in the 1986 exhibition, months after the 21-year-old Ovechkin was born.
"It's a big honor, a big honor for the Washington Capitals and for Russian hockey," Ovechkin said. "Thanks fans, my [linemates], my teammates, my coaches."
Ovechkin leads the league in goals with 28 after scoring twice last night and is second in points with 59, behind Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.
Interestingly, the other two forwards voted by fans to the Eastern Conference's starting lineup, Crosby and Buffalo's Daniel Briere, are Ovechkin's biggest rivals.
Ovechkin defeated Crosby for the Calder Trophy a year ago, and Ovechkin and Briere have exchanged controversial hits this season. Crosby, at 19 years, 5 months, was the leading vote getter and is the youngest player elected by fans.
"Me and Sidney have a good relationship, we're buddy," Ovechkin said. "Me and Briere, we just have a couple of hits. [Now] we are on the same team."
"But after all-star," Ovechkin joked, "we have some games. Maybe we do something."
There was no NHL all-star game last season because of the Olympics.
The Eastern Conference team is rounded out by two of Briere's teammates, defenseman Brian Campbell and goaltender Ryan Miller, and Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray.
The Western Conference starters are: forwards Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo of San Jose and Colorado's Joe Sakic. The defensemen are Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom and Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer. The goaltender is Vancouver's Roberto Luongo.