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Alex Ovechkin switches skates, Russia retools power play

Here's another hockey update from Sport-Express' Slava Malamud, who will be blogging for us throughout the Games:

Say goodbye to the Wild Sheep Skates! Maybe...

Alex Ovechkin, whose painted blades have been the talk of the Olympic hockey tournament, said after the Friday morning practice that due to some unspecified damage to one of them, he will go back to his old gear. Too bad. The new skates featured an image of a rabid sheep with a missing tooth. Ovechkin's last name is derived from the Russian word "ovechka", which means "little sheep," and his nickname among Russian teammates is and always has been "Ovtsa," or "sheep."

Unless the skates can be fixed quickly, we may not see this particularly bad-mannered farm animal on Ovie's feet any time soon.

So, it was less sheepishness but quite the usual amount of rabid at the Britannia Rink on Friday. The Russians finished up the practice with a shootout challenge, as all the players took turns trying to score on Semyon Varlamov. Ovechkin and the ex-Cap Viktor Kozlov were among the last to solve the young goaltender and Ovie was taking his misfortune pretty hard. In one episode, he had Varlamov beaten only to hit the goalpost, and this prompted Ovechkin to unleash an expletive-laden, screaming soliloquy which had his teammates laughing. His celebration after he finally scored was even louder.

Also at the practice, the Russians were looking at new power-play combinations, with Ovechkin and Semin playing on different units. This time they experimented with putting Ovechkin down in the crease, with Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin on the wings and Ilya Kovalchuk and Sergei Gonchar at the points. If the coaches like what they saw, this could wind up being a killer combo.

As for Varlamov, we have already reported that he spends a great amount of his time in the company of the Soviet goaltending legend Vladislav Tretiak, as they sit together in the press box during the games. Tretiak is in Vancouver in a triple capacity: as the Russian general manager, as the goaltending coach and as the head of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation. As if that were not enough, he is also a member of the Russian parliament, the State Duma.

After the practice I asked Tretiak to talk about his quality time with the young Caps netminder.

"We share our impressions on the play of different goalies," Tretiak said. "It's both a conversation and a learning session that we have up there. We look at the mistakes that some goalies can make. [At the Slovakia game], for example, we looked very closely at Ilya Bryzgalov, who played extremely well, with hardly any mistakes and no unnecessary movements. This is something a young goalie needs to see.

"Varlamov is a great young goalie, with a lot of potential," he added. "I have seen a lot of his games this year and was quite impressed. Also, he is just a great boy, a very nice human being."

By Slava Malamud  |  February 20, 2010; 9:01 AM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin , Ice hockey , Vancouver 2010  
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Comments

Wow! ovechka in Russian is sheep? in Spanish is oveja!

Posted by: cordobes17 | February 20, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

New chant for Ovie at Verizon center--She-eep!

Posted by: redskinsux | February 20, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I think we need to start "baah-ing" every time Ovi scores.

Posted by: butcherbaker | February 20, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

@cordobes17

I'll assume the Spanish word for sheep came from the Latin which came from the Greeks.

While the Russian word for sheep came from the Greeks as well.

Another language note: the name Kozlov means goat. Guess the Capitals were the team that did not put the sheep and the goat on separate lines, unless one figures that Backstrom is the person to separate the sheep from the goat.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 20, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I hear that Build a Bear has had some NHL uniforms available in some of their shops but not the Caps, as far as I know.

I believe Build a Bear does have a sheep available as an option.

Someday I wish to get a lamb at Build a Bear, have it dressed in a Caps uniform and name it "Ovi". The perfect name for an ovine creature.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 20, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

... and if you are a Texas Aggie, "Ovechka" means girlfriend and "Baaaaaaaaaaaa" means NO!

Posted by: VirginiaLonghorn | February 20, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Name Ovechkin formed not directly from the names of animals, and from pre-Christian names.

And yes, there is such a joke about the names in Russia. So jokes mostly kids.

Posted by: daniilka2006 | February 22, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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