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May 27, 2018

Alex Ovechkin

Las Vegas, Nevada: Practice Day

THE MODERATOR: We have Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.

Q. Hi, Alex. Before the start of practice today, you sat on the bench there for like, I don't know, five minutes or so by yourself, just kind of looking out. I know you do that sometimes, but now you're on the eve of the Stanley Cup Finals, your first one. What were you thinking about?
ALEX OVECHKIN: No, I just do it all the time.

Q. Come on, Alex. You were thinking about something, man.

Q. Alex, how are you? Do you feel that, with as far as you guys have advanced this particular playoff run, you're starting to sense a different kind of level of urgency and care and attention and focus than maybe has existed in the past for you personally?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I don't think like you have to put pressure or urgency more than you used to do it. I think you just have to manage your emotions and do the same, exactly the same what you do in past years.

Stanley Cup Finals, like we've never been here. Of course it's exciting, but I don't want to get too excited. I don't want to get too energetic right now before the games. I'd rather keep my emotions, keep my energy on the ice and do my best over there.

Q. Alex, you've had a lot of battles with Fleury dating back to his days with Pittsburgh. Can you talk about how fun that battle is between you and him and what makes him such a good competitor.
ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah, he's a great goalie. He knows how to win. It's going to be tough. It's going to be harder and be fun to play against him and against those guys.

It's always a challenge to play against the best, and I can't wait.

Q. Hi, Alex. You seem to be in the spotlight plenty, but now you're really in it more than ever here at the Stanley Cup Final. Are you relaxed right now? Do you enjoy that spotlight being on you all the time here?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah, I'm enjoying it. You know, I'm enjoying since -- when the playoffs start, I start enjoying it. You know, like we want to be here. We work so hard all year. I don't think nobody believes in us and nobody believes in Vegas, and we're right now in the Stanley Cup Finals, and we fight for a Cup. Come enjoy this moment. I think everybody enjoys it. You guys enjoy it. Fans enjoy it.

We're going to play hockey. You guys are going to be on the beach, watch the hockey games with cocktails, and come here and watch the game, and it's going to be fun for you guys.

Q. Alex, earlier Mac said that you were showing more defensive detail than at any time he's seen in your career, and that's made a big difference in terms of how this team has approached defense. When did you kind of come to the realization that you needed to become more of a 200-foot player to help this team get over the hump?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I try to do my best. You know, it's -- in the regular year, in the playoffs. Of course in the playoffs you don't have tomorrow, you know. In the regular year, if you play not good or you lose a game, you know like, okay, you have like 60 games left to bounce back or whatever.

Here you can't do -- you can't make mistake. You have to be focused all the time, and you have to play hard and play smart full 60.

Q. Alex, it's been 20 years since your franchise has been at this point, and Vegas, as improbable as any run in sports history to this level. What do you make of this Final matchup?
ALEX OVECHKIN: It's huge for both organizations. For us, you're right, it's been 20 years the city, the fans and the players have been in the Stanley Cup Finals. Our city right now is very excited, very passionate, and in New York City, like 6,000 people was there, I think, was there last night in practice. It was incredible.

Here as well, everybody -- everybody like knows it's the Stanley Cup Final, and everybody is excited.

Q. Alex, how would you explain why home ice has not been that much of an advantage, not just this year, but for quite a while now compared to other sports? How does that come into play in your brain?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I don't know. It's a good question. I think it's maybe put pressure on the home-ice team who play at home maybe. But for me it doesn't matter if you play at home or away. I just try -- how I said, I just try to do my best. I don't try to look outside the rink, what's happening over there, and I just focus on the ice.

Q. You're such a popular athlete in Russia. I wonder if you know whether or not -- is it a big story back there that you're in the Stanley Cup Final? Have you heard from President Putin? Have you heard from your friends? How big is it over there?
ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah, Vladimir Putin called me and wished me luck, you know. No, I'm just joking (laughter). No, it's -- of course it's been news, like the Washington Capitals. We have three guys in from Russia -- me, Orly, and Kuzy -- play for Stanley Cup Finals. It's huge over there. We have lots of Caps friends over there, lots of friends who love hockey, and my friends, my family, my wife's family, everybody cheering, and everybody support us.

Q. Alex, along the lines of Russian hockey, you've spoken a lot. I've read a lot about the influence of Fedorov and you broke some records. There's a picture that keeps floating around the Internet when you were a child in a Sabres jersey. How much of an influence was Alexander Mogilny to you in his game?
ALEX OVECHKIN: It was not a jersey. It was a jacket. It was cold. My dad gave me that jacket. But how you know like my favorite game was San Jose, but back then we can't order, we can't buy like stuff with the logo. If we have something, like you wear it because back then, for me and for kids, they don't care if it's like Detroit or Vancouver hat or T-shirt or jersey on you. If you're so cold because you play hockey and you have like T-shirt with an NHL team logo.

Of course all the Russian players who be in the league, we knew like Mogilny and Bure and all those legends give us something like we want to be in this position, we want to be in their position. We want to play in the NHL. We want to be one of the best players in the world, play against the best players. I'm pretty sure lots of right now kids and parents look at me and Kuzy or Orly and Malkin and they say, okay, guys, look what they do and how they skating, how they shooting puck, how they -- you know, I don't know what else. Like you just look at them, and maybe one day you're going to be in their spot.

Q. Alex, I come from CCTV China Central Television, and in China you have a lot of, lot of fans. You are the biggest star in China. And when you defeat Lightning, some fans just told me they had tears down. And facing a new team in the Stanley Cup Final, do you feel your confidence or pressure or both?
ALEX OVECHKIN: I think it's everything come together, pressure, nervous, but I think as soon as you step on the ice, the pressure and the nerves just goes away. I think it's -- you don't have to think about anything, only the puck, only the plays, only the score goals, like blocking shots, the physical game, all the small details.

It's nice that I'm very popular in China. Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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