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Ovechkin's focus squarely on moving forward

by Dan Rosen /
ARLINGTON, Va. -- For the second straight June, Alex Ovechkin had a friend tell him who won the Stanley Cup. The eight-hour time difference between Moscow and Philadelphia meant he slept through Game 6 of the Final, but he wasn't all that interested in watching it anyway.

"It's not easy because you want to play, you want to stay in the war," Ovechkin told "But the war sometimes is going to be over, and then it's time to relax at that time."

Ovechkin's "war" ended earlier than anyone could have predicted last spring when the Capitals shockingly went down in seven games to the Montreal Canadiens. The Caps' captain admitted in a one-on-one interview Thursday from Kettler Capitals Iceplex that he has thought about that series and what went wrong "just a little bit," but he never allowed himself to dwell on it.

"I was not concentrating on why we lose or what happened because we lose, it's done," Ovechkin said. "You can't think about if we're going to do this and this, maybe we're going to win. It is what it is and we have to forget about it, take the bad experience and make it a good experience for ourselves. I'm looking forward to this year."

Listening to Ovechkin on Thursday, it became obvious that he's not sure what to expect this year.

"I don't want to say, 'OK, this year is going to be Caps year.' I just want to say we're going to do our best to be better and be in Chicago's spot," Ovechkin said. "Again, it's going to be hard and it's going to be a long way, but I think our group of guys that we have are ready."

Even though he can't wait to get back into the playoffs, Ovechkin believes there is plenty to gain from the regular season.

The Capitals are again favored to win the Southeast Division and if their goaltending (22-year-olds Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth) holds up, they could win another Presidents' Trophy.

"(The regular season) is good because you can do some different things, you can make yourself in shape and ready for the playoffs and that's good for our team," Ovechkin said. "I look at the season to win every game, to try to win every game, and be ready for the most important thing why we're here, the playoffs and the Stanley Cup."

Outside of the team concerns, there is the issue of Ovechkin's unique style, which came into question last season when he was called "reckless" on multiple occasions.

Ovechkin was suspended twice -- for two games in November for kneeing Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason and for two games in March for his hit on Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell. He was also fined for "slew footing" Atlanta's Rich Peverley and received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta.

The Campbell hit, seen live early in the first period of an NHL on NBC Game of the Week, drew the most attention and fury from the hockey world. Many wondered out loud if Ovechkin would have to change his style to prolong his career.

"People say different things and if you're going to listen to all people, every man and woman that is going to say something about my game, I'm going to listen, I'm going to listen and then throw it away," Ovechkin said. "I don't know if I'm going to change my game or not. We're going to see on the ice."

That at least sounds like he's leaving the door open, that maybe he could be a different player, safer player this season.

"No," Ovechkin answered quickly when asked if he thinks change is necessary. "I don't think I have to change. I just want to play the game, play as hard as I can."

And, maybe wake up in June well aware of who won the Stanley Cup and where the parade route begins.

"Well, we're going to see," Ovechkin said.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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