- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 12, 2008

It was just another day at the office for Alex Ovechkin.

Less than 24 hours after signing his name to the richest contract in NHL history, Ovechkin was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team as a reserve.

“It is a big honor for me to be an All-Star,” Ovechkin said. “The best players will be there and I want to be there too.”

There was no game his rookie season, but Ovechkin was voted in as a starter last year. Ovechkin was tied for second in the league with 32 goals before last night’s games and tied for ninth in points.

While he is on pace for career highs in both goals and points, Ovechkin also has made strides with his defensive play.

“Really? I’m surprised,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau joked. “You know what, he deserves to be there … along with [Ilya] Kovalchuk. I guarantee when Atlanta plays and when we play, the No. 1 thing going up on locker room walls is how to stop Ovechkin and Kovalchuk.”

It was good news for Ovechkin but a disappointing day for Mike Green. The 22-year-old has had a breakout season in his second full year with the team. Green is tied for the NHL lead for goals among defensemen with 11.

He has taken a major step forward since Boudreau was named coach on Thanksgiving. Green has eight goals, 16 points and a plus-six rating in those 22 games. He has led the team in ice time in 10 of the past 15 games and has skated more than 25 minutes in eight of the last 10 contests.

“It is an honor to even be considered, but yeah it is disappointing because you want to go,” Green said.

Many of the Caps came off the ice yesterday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex awaiting word about whether Green would make it. The news of his snub upset several of his teammates.

“It has been unbelievable — he’s been the best defenseman, at least in the Eastern Conference, that I’ve seen us play [with or] against,” captain Chris Clark said. “I think it’s awful for something like that to happen. I don’t if it is our market or what. It is a shame.”

Green could still join the team if someone does not participate. He is also still eligible to play in the YoungStars game like he did last season. Those rosters are expected to be announced Tuesday and Caps rookie Nicklas Backstrom should earn a spot the Eastern Conference team.

“I’m a little disappointed with that,” Boudreau said. “If he doesn’t make it this year then shame on them, but he’s going to make it for a lot of years to come because he is just starting to come into his own.”

Notes — Defenseman Tom Poti, who has missed three games with an upper body injury, returned to practice yesterday and said he hopes to play tomorrow afternoon against Philadelphia. Clark practiced again but is still unsure whether he will be ready for the Flyers. He has missed 18 games with a groin injury. Boudreau ruled defenseman Brian Pothier (head) out for tomorrow.

Matt Pettinger and Quintin Laing did not practice, but Boudreau said he expected Pettinger back today and Laing is day-to-day.

“[Laing] has all those bruises [from blocking shots],” Boudreau said. “If you saw him yesterday, he was limping all over the place, the poor kid. Come Sunday, he’ll be ready if we need him.”



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