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Fans To Determine Breakaway Winner

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. This weekend in Montreal, that head belongs to Caps left wing Alex Ovechkin. Ovi won the NHL’s Breakaway Challenge at the Skills Competition prior to the 2008 NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta. Now an anxious hockey world eagerly awaits this year’s competition to see what new puck pyrotechnics the Caps left wing has added to his arsenal.

In a new wrinkle, fans will vote to determine the winner. A panel of celebrity judges deemed Ovechkin's moves to be the best a year ago.

A handful of Ovi’s peers will be trying to outdo the Great Eight, seeking to take that aforementioned crown from his head. Four of the game’s best puck- and stick-handlers will attempt to topple the reigning king at the 2009 Honda/NHL SuperSkills competition on Saturday in Montreal.

Chicago sophomore Patrick Kane beat out Caps center Nicklas Backstrom for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie last season. Now the 20-year-old phenom will attempt to outdo Ovechkin in the Breakaway Challenge.

Anaheim pivot Ryan Getzlaf is another Breakaway Challenge participant; he’s the guy who termed Ovechkin’s winning move in the 2008 event “overrated.”

Fellow Russian and noted stickhandling wizard Alexei Kovalev of the Montreal Canadiens is certain to be a worthy foe. Kovalev can stickhandle in a phone booth and he is the veteran of all the competitors. The 35-year-old right wing is now in his 16th NHL season. Kovalev also earned the honor of serving as captain for the 2009 Eastern Conference All-Star Team.

Penguins center Sidney Crosby was forced to withdraw from participation in the All-Star Game because of an injury sustained in a Jan. 14 game against Washington. Corsby had been slated to round out the Breakaway Challenge field. Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis will replace Crosby on the Eastern Conference roster. There is no definitive word yet as to whom – if anyone – would replace Crosby in the Breakaway Challenge.

The 2009 Honda/NHL SuperSkills competition airs live on Versus at 7 p.m. on Saturday. After each player’s turn, voting will take place among those watching live at Bell Centre and those watching at home.

Make sure you’re watching live when the shootout showdown goes down, and make sure you rock the vote like you rock the red here in the District.

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