After a disappointing start to the 2013 season, the Washington Capitals are showing signs of life. Star forward Alex Ovechkin tells ESPN.com's Katie Strang about turning things around in D.C., why he likes playing for new coach Adam Oates and how he got engaged to professional tennis player Maria Kirilenko in this week's installment of the New York Minute.
Strang: Why do you think you have guys have been playing better recently?
Ovechkin: Honestly, I think we've been playing better, not just like the last three games we win. We've played probably seven or six games [that] we've played well. Again, sometimes we play well but [there are] periods of time where we make mistakes and you let a team breathe. Especially a team like Pittsburgh, you let them breathe and give them chances to score goals, they're gonna score. They're going to use it. They have [the] best players there -- [Sidney] Crosby, [Evgeni] Malkin, [James] Neal, [Chris] Kunitz. They're gonna use it. That's something we've learned.
And on our line right now, we have Mike Ribeiro [Ribeiro pokes his head in] ...
Strang: You get paid to say that, right?
Ovechkin: Yeah, he's going to owe me again.
Strang: Do you feel like your game's picking up?
Ovechkin: Again. I think I have good chemistry with him right now. He's giving me the puck. Most of the time when I was on left side, the [defense] knows exactly where I'm gonna skate and what I'm gonna do, so when they can, it was kind of hard to find me in the neutral zone always. So he had to carry the puck always almost from our line to their zone to find me there, but again I like to be with the puck. I like to have the puck when I have speed. You know, then I'm dangerous. Right now, I have it and I'm pretty happy with it.
Strang: What's something you like about playing for new coach Adam Oates?
Ovechkin: Of course, the style. Because you can see with the stats right now, all three lines are rolling. It's nice when all three lines can do that kind of stuff and that kind of work and create it.
Strang: Tell me about playing back home in Russia during the lockout. How was it?
Ovechkin: It was great. I had fun. Sometimes I miss the locker room, I miss the guys, the Russian jokes because I'm [the] only Russian guy here, so I kinda miss my language. But again, I'm here right now and I'm very happy to be back. But that moment when I had a chance to play in front of my parents, in front of my family, it was very good.
Strang: When [Ilya] Kovalchuk came back, one of the things he said was how great it was to finally spend the Russian New Year with his family. But you had an especially eventful one, right?
Ovechkin: Yeah. The New Year is probably the biggest celebration in Russia. Everybody gets so excited and you spend time with family, because you have [a few] days off. It's not like here [where you just get one day]. So, I got engaged.
Strang: And your whole family got to be there?
Ovechkin: Yeah, my parents, her parents. It was [a] very special moment for us.
Strang: So have you gotten dragged into any wedding planning yet?
Ovechkin: [smiling] No. No, no.
Strang: Smart guy. Just nod and sign off on whatever she wants.
Strang: Now, in Russia, is it also a thing to get down on one knee?
Strang: Did you do that?
Strang: Nice work.