Today could be a day John Carlson will remember for the rest of his life, or one he’d rather forget.
At the conclusion of today’s 1 p.m. Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich., USA Hockey will announce its 25-man roster [14 forwards, eight defensemen, three goalies] for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Carlson, a 23-year-old native of Natick, Mass., is considered a strong candidate to make the team, but with a talented field of American-born defensemen in the NHL, he’s not a lock.
So, are the hours leading up to today’s announcement nerve-racking?
“Absolutely,” Carlson said after Wednesday’s practice. “Every day. Anyone would [be nervous] I think. I just try not to let it affect me. I think I've done a good job of that.”
Carlson said he will find out if he makes the team like everyone else, at the conclusion of today’s game on NBC.
“It’s a unique thing, an experience that only happens every four years, and that in itself has a cool factor to it,” Carlson said. “Getting to represent your country, I think everyone in here for their respective countries would feel the same way. I would love the opportunity to do that.”
Alex Ovechkin, who will represent Team Russia, said he’d love to face Carlson in Sochi.
“He have to be there, hundred percent,” Ovechkin said. “He’s grown up as a player a lot. He’s our best D right now. He can play power play and PK and 5-on-5 and play against the top players.”
Ovechkin, who will be representing Russia for the third time in his career, said there is something special about being selected to an Olympic roster.
“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “Can you imagine only 25 players in the whole country and you are one of them? It’s sick.”
Carlson has played all 40 games for the Caps this season and has taken over Mike Green’s role as the team’s top defenseman, logging a team-high 24:41 per game and facing the NHL’s most explosive players.
“I think I've done a real good job, actually, just in the D zone, and that’s something that I've been trying to work on. I think if you’re reliable in the D zone you’re going to get a lot of chances to do good things.”