The Washington Times - January 29, 2012, 12:54PM

OTTAWA | Talk about Alex Ovechkin around the league usually includes someone using the phrase “one of the best players in the world.” Admiration for the Washington Capitals captain is out there, but talk to a lot of guys around the NHL and there’s another Russian star who gets unprompted praise.

No, not even Evgeni Malkin. It’s Pavel Datsyuk.


Asked which fellow All-Star he was most looking forward to playing with, Caps defenseman Dennis Wideman didn’t hesitate.

Datsyuk. He’s awesome,” Wideman said. “The stuff that he can do out there is amazing. You watch him play and I think just the subtleties of some of the stuff that he does – his hands and [he] can find areas around players and the moves and stuff that he pulls out: He can come out of the corner with three guys clean.

It’ll just be kind of exciting to be out there on the ice with him.”

The Detroit Red Wings forward is a popular choice among NHL players as the best in the world, or at least right in the discussion with Malkin and Sidney Crosby, when healthy of course.

Talking about Malkin and Datsyuk, Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard called them “1-2 as the best in the world.”

The order isn’t even what you think.

Yeah, Pavel [No. 1]. And that’s not even with him being my teammate,” Howard insisted. “I do believe he is the best player in the world. He can make things happen offensively, but he’s also great in his own end. He’s reliable on the penalty kill and there really isn’t a situation where you can’t put him out there.”