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Alex Ovechkin, Russia hold first Olympic practice

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

Sunday was the Big Arrival day in Vancouver as the NHLers poured into the Olympic Village, and many of them held their first practices (the Canadians, quite notably, did not). The Caps' Russian contingent was on hand at Canada Hockey Place, where the roof was being raised with a vengeance. Which is not surprising, considering what kind of hotheads were assembled under it.

Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin skated together on the "black jersey line," while Semyon Varlamov was the only regular goaltender present, accompanied by two subs. At least, this was the case until well into the practice, when the Phoenix Coyotes' Ilya Bryzgalov joined the proceedings. With no place in goal for him, Bryzgalov, fully decked in goalie gear, took to playing defense in front of Varlamov, causing the young Capital no end of annoyance. Ovechkin wound up being the only player who managed to score on that particular exercise, beating both goalies with a low, glove-side wrister.

(This wouldn't remind anyone of a certain Sergei Fedorov commercial, would it?)

Speaking of Fedorov, the practice provided an opportunity for the reunion of the Capitals' Russian Five. Fedorov was spotted talking and laughing with Ovechkin and Semin during a break in the action and Viktor Kozlov, who was celebrating his 35th birthday, was congratulated by the entire team. No cake in the face, though. "You are excused from this once you hit 35," joked Kozlov afterward.

Down in the "mixed zone" -- as at the Olympics reporters are not allowed in the dressing room, all the interaction takes place in the hallway after they exit the ice -- Ovechkin talked in front of easily the biggest scrum for hockey at these Games yet.

"I don't know why they meet me like this," Ovechkin said. "I am not the president or anything."

Tomas Fleischmann has been spreading rumors about Ovechkin's choice of footwear at the Olympics. Particularly, he insisted, Ovi was planning to wear red skates. This allegation was denied by Ovechkin himself.

"I will have a twist of my own," he said. "It's a secret. You will see it for yourself."

As for his recent scoring slump, Ovi said he was saving it all for the Olympics.

No such problems for Alexander Semin, who has been red hot lately. Semin said that it is pretty much decided that he and Ovechkin will play on the same line, but nobody yet knows who the center will be. For now, he said, he was just happy to be with his countrymen.

"All of the five Washington players were on the ice together," Semin said referring, of course, to Fedorov and Kozlov as well. "This is how it should be."

As for Varlamov, he was trying very hard to put his embarrassing outing in a 6-5 loss to Ottawa behind him, though he did take all the blame for it.

"I am happy to finally be on the ice again," the 21-year-old goalie said. "Two months was a long time to be away from it. This was probably the reason [for the poor performance]. I think, I got a little rusty and didn't control the game as well.

"In principle, I agree with [Coach Bruce Boudreau's criticism]," he added. "He didn't overestimate and criticized me deservedly... Right now, though, I am 100 percent ready. It couldn't be any other way, playing for the national team.

"Everything is great here," said Varlamov when asked of his first Olympic impressions. "One thing, though: We may try to figure out something more interesting with the food. It's not top-notch here. Some of the guys ended up going to McDonald's. I don't mean to complain, it's just my first impression after visiting the cafeteria."

Varlamov also said that he is a huge Olympics fan and will try to find as much time as he can to watch the biathlon, which he loves. The issue of his mask was raised (his Caps headgear features some U.S. themes, including the stars and stripes, which wouldn't be appropriate playing for Russia), and he said there will be a new one shortly.

"I thought about it for a long time," he said, "but eventually the choice was very simple. It's just a big two-headed eagle spread all over the helmet."

It was Semin who provided the biggest highlight of the evening. Once the team arrived in the Olympic Village, the winger noticed that one of the electric golf carts used by the volunteers to haul the athletes' luggage was standing nearby with the key still in. Laughing his head off, Semin duly committed grand theft auto as he jumped into the cart, drove up to Kozlov and offered him a ride. After the older comrade abstained, Semin took a couple of laps around the Russian dorm building. There was no report on just how upset Ovechkin was that he didn't get to do it first.


Alexes Ovechkin and Semin flank ex-teammate Sergei Fedorov. (Slava Malamud)



(Slava Malamud)

By Slava Malamud  |  February 15, 2010; 7:32 AM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin , Ice hockey , Vancouver 2010  
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Comments

Have fun guys, beat Crosby!

But don't get hurt!!! :-)

Posted by: cupcrzy | February 15, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

It was Semin who provided the biggest highlight of the evening. Once the team arrived in the Olympic Village, the winger noticed that one of the electric golf carts used by the volunteers to haul the athletes' luggage was standing nearby with the key still in. Laughing his head off, Semin duly committed grand theft auto as he jumped into the cart, drove up to Kozlov and offered him a ride.

Bwahahahahahahaha!!! OK, Sasha has a sense of humor after all. :-) That's some funny! Maybe Ovi's rubbing off on him.

Posted by: irockthered | February 15, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Maybe there already was a thread on the opening ceremony, but I for one was horrified by the prospect that they might have chosen Crosby to light the flame for all the obvious reasons ... national sport, national hero, world champion team, poster boy, etc. It would have put a damper on the entire Olympics for me if Crosby was the annointed one. Gretzky was an inspired choice, and a relief.

Posted by: theblitz | February 15, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

"Have fun guys, beat Crosby!

But don't get hurt!!! :-)"

Lol!

Exactly what I was going to say word for word. :)

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | February 15, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

What a great deal for the Caps. Hopefully Varly will be at the top of his game again when he gets back to the NHL. Too bad Bruce started him so soon. Nothing like a reconditioning stint with the Russian national team.

Posted by: bdcberger | February 15, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Just beat Canada.

Posted by: DCFanatic | February 15, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Both Sweden and Russia have teams that can beat Canada. And the Czech team isn't that far off either.

This should be very interesting.

Posted by: leopard09 | February 15, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

F Canada... F Russia... Go USA!!!

Sorry OVIE, Semin, & Varly... you are the enemy NOW!

Posted by: tony325 | February 15, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Go Latvia! Sarauj!

Posted by: FH59312 | February 15, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

F Canada... F Russia... Go USA!!!

Sorry OVIE, Semin, & Varly... you are the enemy NOW!

________________________

Thanks for sharing your true feelings, Mr. Patriot.

Posted by: Silly_Willy_Bulldog | February 15, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Go Backstrom! Sweden for gold.

Posted by: ThisGuy | February 15, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Crosby and Canada will school those Ruskies just like last summer...

Posted by: jackme11 | February 15, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

How silly is this? We're talking about practice! Practice! Sheesh. I mean listen, we're sitting here talking about practice, not the games, not the games, not the games, but we're talking about practice. We're talking about practice, man. How silly is that? We're talking about practice, man. We're talking about practice. We're talking about practice. We're not talking about the games. We're talking about practice. It's strange to me but we're talking about practice, man, we're not even talking about the games, when it actually matters, we're talking about practice. How silly is this?

Posted by: FridayKnight | February 15, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Remember this is more about the athletes themselves than their country. Wishful thinking I know. But I can't imagine rooting for Parise and Kane over Ovi and Semin.

Posted by: rjma1 | February 15, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

All work and no play makes FridayKnight a dull boy. All work and no play makes FridayKnight a dull boy. All work and no play makes FridayKnight a dull boy. All work and no play makes FridayKnight a dull boy. All work and no play makes FridayKnight a dull boy.

Posted by: WhatRocks1 | February 15, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Do you believe in miracles? Let's hope Ryan Miller does...

Posted by: LloydChristmas | February 15, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

@FridayKnights - why not talk about practice - it's FUN! And these guys ROCK!

Posted by: cforster2001 | February 15, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Is Varlamov using a translator, or is he giving interviews in English now?

Posted by: megola3000 | February 15, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Wrong gender, whatrocks.

Posted by: FridayKnight | February 15, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

A B C

Anyone But Canada.

And I bet Sid is all sad because some other Canadian was the first to win the gold on home soil.

Posted by: CindyJennings | February 15, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

This is fun to read about. Hopefully this feels like a vacation for these guys. Also, my money is on Sweden. Their team looks insane on paper.

Posted by: wcc118 | February 15, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Have fun guys, beat Crosby!

But don't get hurt!!! :-)

------------------------
Hey Ovie

Can you give Cindy Crosby a nice check for me?

P.S. Don't let Semin fight(slap)....

Posted by: ENJOYA | February 15, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I love my Russians and all that, but what about Backis?!!! Can we get at least a couple lines about what HE's been doing and his McDonalds/Cafeteria preferences? I mean even Fleishman was at least mentioned in this blog for gosh sake. Come on Slava, let's be a little diplomatic here...

GO BACKIS!! GO SWEDEN!!! GOLD IN 2010!!!

Posted by: capswench | February 15, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Just beat Canada.
Posted by: DCFanatic | February 15, 2010
--------

Bradley, Chimera, Fehr, Gordon, Knuble, Laich, Morrison, Erskine, Green, Morrisson, Schultz and Sloan ...

Posted by: Dalliquippa | February 15, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

@Dalliquippa

Gee whiz, you've named our many of our Canadian born players but left off Theodore.

And Knuble would probably identify more as an American since, although he was born in Canada, he lived most of his life in Michigan. (While his parents were Latvian immigrants who came over as children to the USA.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 15, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

F Canada... F Russia... Go USA!!!
Sorry OVIE, Semin, & Varly... you are the enemy NOW!
Posted by: tony325 | February 15, 2010 1:27 PM |

moron - u are an immigrant too beetch.

Posted by: Rocc00 | February 15, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Go Team Russia! No offense to the Americans and all but if I was a bettin' man, I don't think I'd put my money on our wonderful country. And besides, it's just a game. =P

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | February 16, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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