Alex Ovechkin-Ilya Kovalchuk: Who Will Win the Battle of the Russians?

Peter BojarinovAnalyst IOctober 22, 2009

ATLANTA - JANUARY 26:  Eastern Conference All-Star Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals and Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the Atlanta Thrashers look on during the Dodge/NHL SuperSkills competition as part of the 2008 NHL All-Star weekend at Philips Arena on January 26, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The face-off between the hottest Russians on the planet will engage tonight.

This evening, The Atlanta Thrashers will play host to the Washington Capitals.

In the red corner we have No. 8, Alexander “The Great” Ovechkin. Standing six foot two, weighing 233 pounds of all muscle, this 24-year-old is coming off a season full of accomplishments. In the 2008-09 season, Ovie received the Maurice Richard Trophy as the league's goal-scoring leader, and both the Lester B. Pearson and Hart Memorial Awards for being the most valuable player in both the minds of the players and critics.

This season, Ovechkin looks to take it another step further. Alex is already at the top of the league; first in goals with nine and points with sixteen. It looks very much like Ovechkin will repeat with his awards.

In the blue corner we have No. 17, Ilya Kovalchuk. Also standing six foot two, weighing 230 pounds of sheer "snipabilty," this 26-year-old is entering a contract year.

Kovalchuk is five seasons removed from his Maurice Richard Trophy. He’s enjoying a season with more Russian teammates he could ever think of since leaving the motherland. He has been centered by Nik Antropov, whom he had a hand in bringing to Atlanta, which has allowed him more room in the offensive zone.

Kovalchuk leads the team and is second in the league with seven goals. Also, his shooting percentage is hitting a 35 percent rate, which is top-ten in the NHL.

Much like the two Russians, their teams are hot right now. Washington (4-2-2) is first in their division, with Atlanta (4-1-1) just a single point behind. Both teams look to lead the Southeast and contend for the Stanley Cup.

In Ovechkin’s mind, his team is going straight for the Cup after last season, when they were defeated by the Stanley Cup Champions in a seven-game series. This year, Ovechkin and his teammates look to take it one step further.

In Kovalchuk’s mind, he looks to take his team to the playoffs and become true contenders. Atlanta has never been labeled as such, but Ilya and his teammates look to change all that and truly start a new age in their city and organization.

It all starts tonight, in the clash of the Russian titans.