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The City of Buffalo vs. Ovechkin

Think anyone in Buffalo has forgotten about Alex Ovechkin's hit on Sabres captain Daniel Briere?

They haven't. In fact, it seems like the whole city has been waiting for this day.

Stripped atop The Buffalo News' sports page was this headline: "Caps' Ovechkin is on Briere's mind".

The story revealed something I didn't know. Briere is still battling some lingering soreness in his neck and back from the Dec. 2 hit, which sent him flying headfirst into the boards.

Without rehashing the entire episode--I'm assuming that if you're reading this you've watched the replay on YouTube a minimum of three times--here's what the players involved had to say after this morning's pregame skate:

"It's over now," Briere told reporters. "Obviously when someone hits you from behind, it's a cheap shot. It's not a game where I'll be looking to get him back or anything. It's over. You move on. I'm not wasting any energy holding grudges and trying to get somebody who [took] a cheap shot at you. I've had more than one cheap shot in my career ..."

Ovechkin, asked about the potential of hearing lots of loud boos from the fans at HSBC Arena said: "I'm ready. I like it if the fans boo to me. I get more excited. And I have more [motivation]. More emotion."

Then a reporter asked about what he expects from the Sabres.

"I ready for anything," he said with a laugh. "If they hit me, I will take these hits. It's just a game. If somebody wants to kill me, kill me. I am open."

Personally, I'm not sure Ovechkin is going face much, if any, retribution from the Buffalo players. Instead, he's going to get booed like he's never been booed before. I've got a feeling that Ovechkin is going to be received by Buffalo fans the way Jagr is greeted in Washington - booed each time he touches the puck.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 26, 2006; 2:07 PM ET
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