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Cory Stillman on Alex Ovechkin

As with every NHL team over the next day or two, members of the Florida Panthers were asked about Alex Ovechkin's hit on Brian Campbell from Sunday. The Panthers, though, happen to play the Caps on Tuesday night, and I happen to be in Sunrise, so I got to hear veteran winger Cory Stillman's take. Stillman has played most of his post-lockout career in the Southeast Division, and thus has seen Ovechkin plenty of times. And his analysis mixed both the good and the bad.

"You know what, he plays hard," Stillman said, when asked if Ovechkin's style is different this season. "Has it changed? Maybe as players you think he gets away with a little bit more. You know, he has stuck his knee out on Tim Gleason, and they've been easy on him. On one side he plays hard, he takes hits, and on [the other] side a lot of guys would love to run him over, it's just it's hard to do. He's so strong, he's so fast, and if someone gets a chance they're gonna run at him too, but he usually has his head up on that...."

"He's trying to be the difference in the game, he wants to be the star, and he's gonna do whatever he can, whether it's hitting or scoring. You look at his stats, you look at his hits, his shots, everything, he's doing that."

I asked what Stillman meant by saying Ovechkin gets away with more.

"Sometimes it seems like he runs, you know?" Stillman said. "But he's a big guy, he's moving all the time and he plays the same way night in night out. Obviously sometimes you want to question, you question a lot of hits on guys, with the Gleason [hit and] incidents like that. He doesn't mean to do it, it's just his reaction. He plays hard. You know what, he's coming out and he is the star of the game.

He plays hard, and if you have a young kid growing up who wants to be a hockey player, you want him to be Alex Ovechkin: you know, compete, hit, skate. Besides the North American style of fighting, which he doesn't have to do, he's the whole package. He does it."

I asked if he'd want his son to play like Ovechkin.

"Yeah, you do," Stillman said. "He scores goals, he makes plays, he's exciting to watch, he's got a smile on his face, he's excited when his teammates score, and that's being the whole package of a hockey player."

And I asked if he'd like to see Ovechkin take some of the questionable hits out of his game.

"You know what, you cut that out of the game, it changes his game," Stillman said. "You tell a guy who's a checker not to run around, not to hit, they're not gonna be in the league long. If you tell him he can't do that, does he score? Is he as intense? Maybe he's not. He's got one game, and if you check the 61 games, he plays the same way every night."

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 16, 2010; 1:32 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Rack Stillman for his honest assessment of Ovie and rack Dan for getting Stillman to open up and not just give canned, cliche responses.

Posted by: MACCHAMPS04 | March 16, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Compare to Craig Adams hit on Ovechkin.

Posted by: DoorKnob1 | March 16, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Nice article Dan. Good to hear what another NHL'er has to say. Much different than what the OV haters out there say. Nothing close to "dirty" being used. I heard "strong, fast, plays hard, and takes hits. The whole package of a hockey player." How about that!!

Posted by: tnand | March 16, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

NHL Today is reporting that Caps are looking into hiring Olympic men's (?) skating medalist Johnny Weir -- figuring that so long as the team is going to be penalized for playing hockey, they may as well use the rink for some ice dancing and figure skating exhibitions.

Weir and the Caps are also planning to introduce a new pink-sequined version of their home sweater at their March 24 match against the "Sid the Kid" and the Pittsburgh Penguins -- especially since the visitors are expected to wear their "baby blues" -- in a special match sanctioned by the NHL as the "diaper derby."

Posted by: Vic1 | March 16, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Great stuff, Dan.

With Ovi, you have to take the bad with the good. It stands to reason that this probably won't be his last suspension. You hope no one else is injured, but you can't reasonably hope for him to change his playing style.

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 16, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Dan did you know that Steve Downie from TB was only fined, not suspended for trying to take out Crosby the same day of Ovie's boarding penalty?

Please post this. Because it shows inconsistency in Colin Campbell's rulings. Also the link mentions that Downie was suspended 20 games in 2007 for a preseason check to another player's head.

Posted by: GC4Life | March 16, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

This is exactly correct.

Posted by: fbutler1 | March 16, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Word is that Alex Ovechkin has applied for Canadian Citizenship. Gary Buttmann immediately rescinded his suspension.

Posted by: poguesmahone | March 16, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Stillman couldn't have said it better. I hope Ovie doesn't change his style at all. There's nothing wrong with the way he plays. I'd rather see him play this way for only a couple more years than to change his game and play for another 10. He is by far, the most exciting player in hockey.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | March 17, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Agreed! If you took the physical aspect out of Ovie's game, then he would be as boring at the "ball punching" Crosby...and nobody wants that!

Posted by: NatyBG | March 17, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

as, not at

Posted by: NatyBG | March 17, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

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