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Mike Wise: Sorry Sidney Crosby, There's Nothing Wrong With Alex Ovechkin's Celebrations

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The Washington Post's Mike Wise columnizes on the Capitals' 5-2 victory over the Penguins on Sunday at Verizon Center. Video by Atkinson & Co.

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By Mike Wise
Monday, February 23, 2009

Some of those well-mannered Canadian kids -- the self-anointed puck purists -- just don't get Alex Ovechkin.

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Take Sid the Kid, whose moniker served him so well after yesterday's humiliation at the hands of Ovie the Adult, indisputably hockey's greatest player.

After the sport's two young puck deities got chippy with each other near the Penguins' bench -- basically Zeus and Apollo on ice -- Ovechkin waved in mock fashion toward Crosby, almost inciting his peer in a game that was all Capitals, all the time.

If you were to ask Crosby, some of Ovechkin's showmanship and histrionics go overboard.

"I don't like it personally but that's him," Crosby said. "And like it or lump it, that's what he does. Some people like it, some people don't. Personally, I don't like it. But you know what, he's a good player."

Ovie, after the masses of cameras and microphones had cleared out, replied, "He's a good player, but I don't care what he say about me or my game."

Unleash the fury -- or at least the verbiage.

Crosby and the Penguins were not just beaten down by the Caps in a national TV matinee; Ovie punked their best player in a very non-traditional way, in a manner that has become, well, very Ovechkin.

And anathema to anything grand old puckheads revere about the game.

For instance, no one who grew up on a frozen pond in Ottawa or Nova Scotia cocked his glove toward his ear after a goal, exhorting the crowd to make more noise, as Ovechkin did this week. They certainly didn't leap into a pane of glass separating players and fans to commune with their crazed legions, like Ovechkin often does after a goal on his home ice.

The Verizon Vert is now part of the Ovie package, just as trash-talking a goalie is during a pre-game skate in South Florida. That's right, last week he playfully told Florida Panthers goalie Thomas Vokoun he would score twice against him -- then ended up with a hat trick.

And then there was his point toward the heavens, which understandably came after his otherworldly goal against Montreal on Wednesday. Did you see this stunning sequence? The steal at mid-ice, the pass off the boards to himself, the pirouette to regain control of the puck and, finally, a sublime slide and shot from his derriere -- arguably the most breathtaking goal of Ovechkin's young career. (Or at least this season.)


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