- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 27, 2008

SEEN AND HEARD AT VERIZON CENTER

Dmitry Kugryshev is showcasing his talents in the world junior championship and John Carlson is tearing up the Ontario Hockey League, but the Caps‘ first pick in this year’s draft, Anton Gustafsson, is continuing his development with quite a bit less fanfare.

Picked 21st overall in June, Gustafsson is playing for Bofors in HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s equivalent of the American Hockey League.

“He was injured at the start, but then he came on and has been playing very well,” said Ross Mahoney, the Caps’ amateur scouting director. “I haven’t seen him yet, but our Swedish scout, Mats Weiderstal, has watched him a couple of times and has said he is playing very well.”

The injury was a back problem that plagued Gustafsson last season and kept some NHL teams from scouting him as much as they wanted to. The Caps — the franchise his father, Bengt, played for — felt they had a good read on him and moved up two spots in the first round to select him.

“He probably would’ve been on the Swedish team [in the world juniors] if it wasn´t for the injury,” Mahoney said. “The coach more or less told our scout that, too. He’ll have an opportunity to play in it next year.”

Corey Masisak

BY THE NUMBERS

216 » Shots for Alex Ovechkin this season, which leads the NHL and is 51 more than Los Angeles’ Dustin Brown had entering Friday night. Ovechkin is on pace for more than 500; his 446 last season was a career high and the second-most in NHL history.

23 » Assists in the past 23 games for Nicklas Backstrom.

THREE STARS

Alex Ovechkin

His goal was highlight-reel quality — and ended up being the difference

Viktor Kozlov

He’s got four goals in four games, and he was bullying people along the boards

Thomas Vanek

Showed some courage trying to come back after blocking an Ovechkin shot and earned a goal in the process

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