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Three Capitals To Take The Ice At Sochi Olympic Games

Second torchbearer Alexander Ovechkin of Russia leaves the monument of Pierre de Coubertin during the torch relay after the ceremony of lighting of the Olympic flame at Ancient Olympia, in west southern Greece.
(AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis/pool)
Second torchbearer Alexander Ovechkin of Russia leaves the monument of Pierre de Coubertin during the torch relay after the ceremony of lighting of the Olympic flame at Ancient Olympia, in west southern Greece.

Three members of the Washington Capitals will represent their countries on the rink when the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia begins next month.

The Russian national team was announced on Tuesday, and the headliner no surprise: Capitals' superstar Alex Ovechkin. The energetic 28-year-old winger leads the NHL in scoring so far this season with 31 goals and 43 points in the first half.

He reprises his role in Team Russia's core, having represented this year's Olympic host in both the 2006 and 2010 games. The Russian team hasn't won a medal since the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. The pressure will be on for Ovechkin to lead the team to gold in front of his home country, especially considering he was among the first Russians to carry the Olympic torch after it was first lit in September of last year.

Joining Ovechkin in Sochi will be Capitals' first line center Nicklas Backstrom, 26, who was named to the Swedish Olympic team on Tuesday. Backstrom was part of the team that came in fifth place in the 2010 games in Vancouver. The star center has kept up a torrid pace for the Capitals this season — his 40 assists in 48 games puts him fourth place in the NHL.

Also playing at the Olympic Games will be 23-year-old defenseman John Carlson, who was announced as part of Team USA during the Winter Classic in Michigan on New Year's Day.

Carlson has been praised for stepping up in the wake of an injury to teammate Mike Green. A behind-the-scenes look at the selection process for the American team published by USA Today describes Carlson playing his way from a marginal contender to a roster spot over the span of a couple months.

"It’s obviously an honor to play for your country," said Carlson, in an interview with The Washington Post. "Getting a chance to play for my country — I’ve only done it twice before. It’s just a whole other level."

Carlson, who was born in Massachusetts and grew up in New Jersey, was an alternate captain for the United States when they won gold at the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championship.

Some notable snubs on the Capitals' roster include goaltender Michal Neuvirth and forward Martin Erat, both of whom were passed over for the Czech Olympic team.

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