The line on Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin goes a little like this: he must win gold or it’s all been a failure.
And yet all we’ve been hearing the last few days is how content Ovi is with the pressure and how excited he is to play. He finally put deed to word on Thursday, scoring on his very first shift of the tournament.
But there’s a another Cap rocking another red, white, and blue: John Carlson. Seems like he’s brought his own American flag-branded sticks to the Games. I first saw these in the locker room at Verizon Center, but was unable to snap a picture before the equipment dudes packed up the gear. Now we’ve got photos of Carlson putting the sticks to work at Team USA’s practice on Tuesday.
Alex Ovechkin‘s second full day of the Sochi Olympics was another busy one. Like Monday, Ovi did a whole lot of press, speaking with the media in a press conference with Team Russia. Unlike Monday, he actually got to take in the sights as well, attending some figure skating with fiancee Maria Kirilenko and hobnobbing with other Russian sports royalty.
On February 11, 2014, In Opinion, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Bruce Bennett
Monday was fun. All the Olympic hockey players arrived in Sochi, practiced with their teams, and posed for a billion photos. Alex Ovechkin, our namesake and inspiration, took up the leftmost spot on a very impressive line with Evgeni Malkin and Alex Semin for Team Russia, and everything was peachy. And yet I’m filled with dread about what’s coming.
There’s a stripe of blue, as seen in the country’s flag. Then there’s Россия, Russia written in the mother tongue, over a white background. Then the stick concludes with a bright red and the Russian coat of arms overlaid in white.
Nicklas Backstrom is no stranger to Russian hockey. During the 2011 lockout, Backstrom put up 25 points in 19 games with Alex Ovechkin‘s Dynamo Moscow. Now back in Russia with Team Sweden for the Sochi Olympics, Backstrom will once again suit up for European hockey– but this time he’ll be playing against his BFF Ovi.
Ovi sits with head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov and Pavel Datsyuk (Photo: Getty)
Around 2AM eastern time, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and fiancee Maria Kirilenko landed in Sochi. Russian dudes Artem Anisimov and Pavel Datsyuk were there as well. The arrival signaled the beginning of a long day for the Russian machine, which I will now document for you.
Four years ago in Vancouver, Alex Ovechkin revealed his specially painted skates for the 2010 Winter Games. They featured his number eight painted and a demonic sheep. The sheep we later learned was a nod to the Ovechkin family name: ‘Ovechka’ means “sheep” in Russian.
For Sochi, Ovechkin’s skates are a little less gaudy and a thousand times more patriotic. In a tweet last night, Ovi debuted his new skates, which feature the Russian flag ever-so-subtly painted across the side of the boot. His signature yellow laces (not gold…) are there as well.
Ovi poses with Maria, Artem, and Uncle Pavel. (Photo: @Ovi8)
All five Washington Capital Olympians packed their bags and left for the airport on Sunday. Players were scheduled to catch their NHLPA-arranged flights out of Newark International Airport around noon.
According to Nicklas Backstrom at Saturday’s morning skate, the players would fly directly into Sochi on a ten-hour flight. He was not looking forward to it.
“I’m not even sure it’s going to be exciting the first hour,” Backstrom said on Saturday. “Everyone’s going to be tired. We’ll get as much sleep as we can because when we wake up it will be morning. We need to get into a rhythm right way with [Russian] time.”
Martin Erat has played on every line for the Washington Capitals. He’s seen power play time and PK minutes. And, of course, he’s sat in the press box. Playing on the first line Saturday, in his 51st game this season, Erat finally scored a goal. Fittingly, it came without a goalie in the net.
“Finally, the one is in the net,” Erat told the gathering of Caps reporters, who had reentered the Capitals locker room after Adam Oates ended his press conference just to talk to him.
Erat’s time in DC, as we all know, has been ill-fated. Traded for a top prospect in Filip Forsberg last season, he asked to leave eight months later after being placed on the fourth line by Oates. With Brooks Laich back in the lineup after missing almost all of last year, Oates didn’t see much of a need for Erat, who, for the first time in the veteran’s career, was made healthy scratch.