PITTSBURGH -- Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals arrived in Pittsburgh on Thursday and the captain, one of the two stars of the upcoming show on Saturday at Heinz Field, immediately felt the buzz that's been prevalent in this city all week long as the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic draws near.
"I'm pretty excited," Ovechkin told NHL.com at Consol Energy Center, where he came to see the Caps' AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. "I can see the atmosphere, lots of people are here now and it's always nice when you get so much attention and people want to see you and get excited. So, it's nice."
Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are at the center of this bitter rivalry between the Capitals and Penguins, but both stress that the competition and contention goes way beyond them. Ovechkin stressed how much he loves being a part of something so fierce, so interesting and so publicized.
"I don't know about him, but I enjoy it," he said. "All my teammates enjoy this situation and I think this is the same situation on his side, too. It's a great time and a great moment for us. We just enjoy life."
As much as he's looking forward to checking out the scene Friday when the Capitals take the Heinz Field ice for practice in the afternoon, No. 8 can't wait for the game.
Months of hype-filled with commercials and interviews will finally be done. It'll be time to play some outdoor hockey just like he used to do in Moscow, except with two points and bragging rights on the line.
"It's going to be pretty fun," Ovechkin said. "I'm going to be shaking a little bit, nervous, but when the puck is going to be dropped that'll be it."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl