The Capitals’ star attraction

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For every supernatural, he-didn’t-just-do-that-did-he? moment on the ice, Ovechkin’s teammates have a he’s-just-one-of-the-guys story in the locker room.

Like the night in Tampa Bay three years ago when Johnson and a couple of conniving Capitals slathered the star rookie’s face with shaving cream in the middle of a television interview.

Unperturbed, Ovechkin carried on as if nothing had happened, the exact opposite of the me-first superstar. Others talk about how he forges through stomach-turning injuries when he could easily play the MVP card and take the night off.

Defenseman Sami Lepisto marveled at how in a game against Montreal last season, Ovechkin scored a goal, broke his nose, then returned to score three more, including the game-winner in overtime.

“He’s getting wrapped up before the game and iced down after it,” Lepisto says. “And you see that and you might have an injury, but you are like, ‘Well, if Ovie can go out there and skate as hard as he does, I can go out there.’ That rubs off on guys a lot, too.”

It is strange that a man so humble and homely — Ovechkin has a face only a lipstick-wearing hockey mom could love, and some in the blogosphere have likened his rough countenance to that of Jaws, the old James Bond villain — has become the matinee idol of professional hockey. The boyish looks of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby appear fashioned for a Times Square billboard, and the young Canadian is far more articulate than his Russian rival.

Yet it was Ovie who in March signed a six-month advertising agreement with the Hair Cuttery, the nation’s largest privately owned hair salon franchise, and graced the cover of ESPN the Magazine’s NHL preview issue this fall. Last summer, he teamed with CCM, the NHL’s official equipment sponsor, for the Ovechkin Streetwear Collection 2008.

Evidently, the husky hockey player is also somewhat of a fashionista.

“He’s definitely a Dolce & Gabbana clothes hound,” Johnson says, shaking his head. “No Wrangler jeans for him.”

Ovechkin does sport a pair of hybrid trousers Johnson coined “sweat jeans” because of their peculiar “half sweatpants, half jeans” pattern.

While they have come to admire his affinity for fashion, his teammates drew the line when Ovie morphed drawstrings and denim.

“It’s embarrassing,” center Dave Steckel says of the pants. “He has a unique style, that’s for sure. He doesn’t care what anybody thinks of him. He’s Ovechkin. He’s the MVP of the league. He can do what he wants.”

Ovechkin is also fast and furious. He sped around the Beltway in a BMW M6 and recently purchased a sparkling Mercedes S65. Ovie’s new ride packs a V12 engine, which causes Johnson to shudder.

“I have ridden with him a couple of times — I don’t think I will make that mistake again,” Johnson says. “I wouldn’t say he’s reckless, he just goes a little faster than I normally go.”

As the morning practice concludes, Ovie attacks the team’s conditioning drills — a withering gantlet of diagonal skate-sprints across the ice — as he would four lanes of open highway.

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