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With a nation watching, Russia’s Ovechkin undaunted by pressure

Alex Ovechkin

Russia’s Alexander Ovechkin celebrates after scoring against Slovakia during the final game of the IIHF International Ice Hockey World Championship in Helsinki on May 20, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/GettyImages)

AFP/Getty Images

During last night’s NBC Olympics primetime coverage from Sochi, correspondent Vladimir Pozner summed up just how much an Olympic hockey gold would mean for host country Russia.

“For the Russians, if the hockey team wins, it doesn’t matter what happens with everything else,” he said. “If it loses, it doesn’t matter what happens with everything else. Hockey is it.”

The hopes of an entire nation are upon the shoulders of everyone on that team, including its biggest star, Washington Capitals phenom Alexander Ovechkin. He’ll be counted upon to help lead them in perhaps the most important hockey tournament it has ever taken part in.

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But as’s Joe Posnanski writes, it’s the extreme focus he’s carried throughout his entire career that enables him to be unfazed by that pressure - even though it’s all everybody seems to talk about.

Russia begins its Sochi schedule on Feb. 13 against Slovenia.

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