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Talking 'AO' and the playoffs

by Phil Coffey

Caps' goaltender Olaf Kolzig ranks teammate Alex
Ovechkin as the best player he's ever played with.
Watch Capitals vs. Sabres highlights 
Alex Ovechkin is past 50 goals and headed toward 60, so it seems appropriate that we kick off Well Said with a couple comments on his great play this season.


“He’s the best player I’ve ever played with, there’s no question. I’ve played with (Jaromir) Jagr. I’ve played with (Peter) Bondra. I’ve played with a number of guys. They all have their specific strengths, but this guy does it all.”

-- Caps goalie Olaf Kolzig is amazed by Ovechkin


“He is unbelievable. I admire the way he plays. I admire the enthusiasm. He can play a physical game. He can beat you one on one. He has a terrific shot. His energy and his passion, if you could bottle that and stick it inside your players, you would have an unbelievable team.”

-- Sabres coach Lindy Ruff on Ovechkin.


“An old boss of mine once said that no fan comes to the game and says; ‘Boy, he is really coaching hard now.’ I always thought that was a great line. Usually your intelligence as a coach is related directly to your goalie’s save percentage.”

-- Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice


“Nothing changes. Just less talking for me.”

-- Evgeni Malkin on what Sidney Crosby’s return means to him.


“The strength and pain... those are the two biggest things. That’s really what I based my decision on: How much strength I had and whether I was able to do things normally that I could do. Late last week, as far as pain and things like that, I wasn’t really hindered - that was a big plus for me.”

-- Crosby describing what his formula was for returning to the lineup.


“People say that arguably he is the best goalie in the game today. To me there is no such thing as arguably. He is the best goalie in the game today.”

-- New Jersey Devils coach Brent Sutter will accept no argument that Martin Brodeur isn’t the NHL’s top goalie.


“It was a great moment for me, coming back. It was a little hard to concentrate at first. The first couple shifts are always the hardest.”

-- Peter Forsberg on returning to the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche in a 2-1 win over Vancouver.


“The competitiveness of this Pacific Division has been strong as any. It makes us better in the long run, the competitiveness which we do enjoy. We would like a little bit of a cushion, but we can’t think about it, and we don’t have time to.”

-- Stars goalie Marty Turco


“I was sitting out in St. Louis with a headset on and right next to me on the bench a kid had my college (U of Nebraska-Omaha) sweater on. I don’t know if I’d given it to him or his family, but in the interview I joked that I’d paid him to wear it and I carry a few jerseys on the road. You have to get your exposure somehow. I don’t think (Martin) Brodeur has to pay anybody to wear his.”

-- Nashville Predators goalie Dan Ellis


“Classic New Jersey Devils game. It’s 2-1, you open up your game and they pounce on you and capitalize.”

-- Leafs coach Paul Maurice on a 2-1 game becoming a 4-1 New Jersey win.


“I loved it. The crowd was loud, and it was almost like a playoff atmosphere in there. I’ve been really, really surprised, and that’s in a good way. I’m very happy with the situation right now.”

-- Defenseman Brian Campbell is finding San Jose to his liking.


“We should have T-shirts made up ‘North American Tour -- Coast to Coast.”’

-- Blues goalie Manny Legace on the team’s current nine-game road trip.


“It’s been a tough year for me. I don’t know that I’ve ever been injured so much in my life. Hopefully, it’s all behind me. (I’m) just looking forward to play hockey and not be injured.”

-- Leafs forward Alexei Ponikarovsky


“We have players who can score. I look at the goal differential, not scoring. As long as our players feel that way, we’re OK. All that counts is winning, not scoring.”

-- GM Lou Lamoriello sums up New Jersey’s philosophy.


“The mood is good. We all want to win and we all want to get to the postseason and that’s it. That’s the only pressure we put on ourselves because we want to be there.”

-- Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell


“You look at the teams we’re trying to catch and stay ahead of, they’ve had an equal amount of success or close to it. That’s the life of pro hockey and that’s pro sports.”

-- Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle


"As we do these games in the future, obviously, Chicago will make a lot of sense. But we haven't made the decision yet."

-- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman answering questions from Chicago media regarding a Winter Classic there.


“How well we’ve played on the road, that’s what’s kept us in this race. We were the 30th team on the road during the first half of the season. Now we’ve climbed up to the middle of the pack, which is a good sign. We just compete harder. We just competed to a certain level before. We would only take it so far. I don’t think we could get it to the level to push another team out of the game. We can now. We can push teams out of the game. So there’s a confidence. The players feel; ‘Geez, you know we can win on the road, we can outcompete you.' "

-- Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock


“I think it’s important to have both goaltenders ready and prepared, and that means Curtis has to play some games as well. But that’s been the plan since he arrived (in January).”

-- Calgary Flames coach Mike Keenan dismissing the notion of a goaltending controversy between Miikka Kiprusoff and Curtis Joseph.


“We kind of aired out some issues that we needed to do, voicing our opinions and kind of cleared the air. A lot of positive things came out of that. From that point, we’ve realized we have underachieved.”

-- Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley on a Feb. 10 players meeting that seems to be a factor in turning their season around.


“Our No. 1 criteria about him hasn’t changed: his health. He’s skating, and there’s no doubt he’s excited about it. We’re excited to see him back on the ice, but we’re not going to push it or force him back. When he comes back, whether it’s this year or next year, it’ll be when he’s ready and 100 percent cleared to go.”

-- Bruins coach Claude Julien on injured forward Patrice Bergeron.



Material from personal interviews, wire services, newspaper, and league and team sources was used in this report.



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