Two years ago today, during the IIHF World Championships in Belarus, the Capitals received a long-distance scare when Alex Ovechkin was the victim of a nasty hip check against Germany and was taken out of the arena by ambulance.
During the same tournament, defenseman Dmitry Orlov suffered a broken wrist that kept him out of the entire 2014-15 season.
On Tuesday, Caps fans again held their collective breaths when Evgeny Kuznetsov was checked in the head by Sweden’s Mikael Backlund in Russia’s 4-1 win.
Kuznetsov was rocked as he crossed the offensive blue line and was slow to get to his feet as Ovechkin stood beside him. Kuznetsov returned to the game and Russian coach Oleg Znarok said the center was fine after the game.
But again, it brings up the question over whether NHL teams should allow their star players to play in international tournaments.
“It’s always cool to play for my country,” Kuznetsov said before leaving for this year’s World Championships, with are being staged in Russia. “Any time they will call me, I will say, ‘Yes, I’m going, 100 percent’ because that’s my country.”
All 30 NHL teams will be placed in a similar predicament in September when the World Cup of Hockey makes its debut in Toronto.
John Carlson, T.J. Oshie (USA), Braden Holtby (Canada), Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov (Russia) and Nicklas Backstrom (Sweden) all have been named to preliminary rosters for the tournament, which begins Sept. 17 in Toronto.
As for Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov, they advanced to the quarterfinals of this year’s World Championships, as did Andre Burakovsky with Team Sweden.
Russia will face Germany at 1:15 p.m. ET on Thursday in Moscow and Sweden will face Canada in St. Petersburg, Russia on Thursday at 1:15 p.m. ET.
Orlov has earned two assists in three games at the tournament and Ovechkin (1 assist), Kuznetsov (1 goal) and Burakovsky (1 goal) have each earned a point.