MOSCOW, May 14. /TASS/. NHL Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin will join the Russian national team at the 2015 Ice Hockey World Championship in the Czech Republic after his club lost 1-2 in overtime on Wednesday in the 7th match of the US league’s playoff series against New York Rangers.
Alexei Zhamnov, the head of the Russian team’s selection service, said the 29-year-old forward, who was named the best scorer of the 2014/2015 NHL regular season and led Russia last year to the world championship’s title in Belarus, would join the national team on Friday.
"Alexander will join the team tomorrow," Zhamnov said. "We have chosen him because his presence will boost confidence in the team."
It is still unclear whether Ovechkin, who won the world championship’s titles playing for Russia in 2008, 2012 and 2014, will get the chance to fight for another title as the Russian team is taking on Thursday on Sweden in a quarterfinal match of the world championship.
If reigning champions Russia defeat their old-time strong rivals Sweden on Thursday night, Ovechkin will join the team playing on a Saturday semifinal.
On its way to the quarterfinals stage, the Russian team, led by Head Coach Oleg Znarok and captain Ilya Kovalchuk won five and lost two games of its Group B qualifiers with the record of 30-16 of scored and scored against goals respectively in seven matches.
To the delight of Russian hockey fans, the national squad changed beyond recognition after Znarok teamed up with the squad last year leading it to the champion’s title at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Belarus.
Russian world champion’s title followed disappointing performance at 2013 World Championship, when it was knocked out from the quarterfinals after being creamed 3-8 by the United States.
Another disappointing performance followed at 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia’s resort city of Sochi, where the Russian squad failed once more to clear the quarterfinals stage losing on its home ice 1-3 to Finland.
Russia’s most recent titles of world champions were conquered in 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2014. The 2008 title was a real treat for Russian hockey fans as it came to the team after a 15-year drought. That title Russia snatched from Canada, which was hosting the World Championship for the first time in its history, with 5-4 victory in overtime.