Less than a week after Caps defenseman John Carlson was named to the U.S. Olympic Team for the Sochi Games of 2014, two of Carlson’s teammates have also been named to their respective countries’ teams for the Games in Sochi next month.
Caps captain and right wing Alex Ovechkin was named to Team Russia and Washington center Nicklas Backstrom was named to Team Sweden on Tuesday. Carlson, Ovechkin and Backstrom will head off to Sochi soon after the Caps’ last game prior to the Olympic break, a Feb. 8 contest against the New Jersey Devils at Verizon Center.
All three players will be seeking to earn an Olympic medal for the first time.
The 28-year-old Ovechkin will be representing Russia in the Olympics for the third time. He totaled five goals and five points in eight games at the 2006 Games in Torino in which Russia lost the Bronze Medal game to the Czech Republic. Ovechkin was named to the all-tournament team in 2006.
Four years later in Vancouver, Ovechkin notched two goals and two assists for four points in four games for Team Russia. Canada trounced Russia 7-3 in the quarterfinal round in 2010.
For Backstrom, the 2014 Olympics in Sochi will be his second Games. He participated for Team Sweden at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, totaling one goal and five assists for six points and a plus-3 in four games as Sweden was ousted by Slovakia in the quarterfinal round and did not medal.
Ovechkin leads the NHL with 31 goals, 12 power-play goals and 225 shots on goal and he has totaled 31 goals and 43 points in 40 games this season. Since entering the NHL in 2005-06, Ovechkin leads all players in goals, points, power-play goals, power-play points and game-winning goals.
Backstrom has represented Sweden in three IIHF World Championship tournaments and has also played for Team Sweden in two World Junior championships.
The 26-year-old Backstrom has 10 goals and 46 points in 42 games this season and is Washington’s leading scorer. He is fourth in the NHL with 36 assists and seventh on the league’s scoring ledger. Since he entered the league in 2007-08, only three players (Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin, San Jose’s Joe Thornton and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis) have more assists than Backstrom (342).
Washington will send three Olympians to Sochi, matching the fewest number of Capitals to represent their countries at the Olympics since NHL players were first deemed eligible in 1998. Washington also had three players in the 2006 Torino Olympics; Ovechkin, goaltender Olaf Kolzig (Germany) and defenseman Ivan Majesky (Slovakia).