It was a day of upsets in men’s ice hockey at the 2022 Winter Olympics, as Team USA, Canada, Denmark and the Czech Republicall fell in the quarterfinals. Slovakia, Sweden and the Russian Olympic Committee stepped up to put on a show and eliminate all three in big victories. All of the former Capitals are now out, except for Stanislav Galiyev.
Slovakia managed to make it past the United States with a massive shootout victory. The Americans were leading 2-1 late in the third, but Marek Hrivik tied the game with 43.7 seconds left in regulation. The Slovaks ultimately won in the shootout.
Former Washington blueliner Aaron Ness was skating on the top pairing for the men’s U.S. team and wearing the “A”. He put up two assists and a +/- rating of plus-4. Ness spent four years with the Capitals organization, dishing three assists in 18 games for D.C. and putting up 15 goals, 128 points and a +/- rating of plus-23 in 239 games with the team’s AHL-affiliate Hershey Bears. He currently plays for the Providence Bruins.
John Carlson would have likely earned a spot on Team USA had the NHL not opted out of the Olympics amid COVID-19. T.J. Oshie could have been up for a spot as well. Martin Fehervary also likely could have made a case to land a spot on Slovakia’s roster.
In addition to Team USA, Canada also saw a surprisingly early exit after being shut out by Sweden in a 2-0 quarterfinal defeat. Daniel Winnik and Daniel Carr were the two former Capitals skating for the Canadians. Carr didn’t skate in any games for Canada and was on the reserve list, but Winnik managed a goal and assist, along with six PIM and a +/- rating of plus-1.
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If the NHL had gone to Beijing, Tom Wilson was on the long list for a spot. Outside of that, Eric Fehr had been among those considered for Team Canada, along with former forward Brendan Leipsic.
The ROC made it past Denmark with a 3-1 win, and though Sebastian Dahm put on a show for the Danes, they couldn’t make it past ROC, who outshot Denmark 40-18. Mathias Bau, who was under contract with the Capitals and played two seasons with their AHL-affiliate Hershey Bears from 2017-2019, was representing his home country. He dished one assist for Denmark.
Lars Eller likely would have been on the team for its Olympic debut if NHL players participated this season. Despite not playing, Eller was keeping an eye on the tournament and said he was thrilled to see Denmark pull off a win in its Olympic debut.
“Well, I hope it means in the big picture that, you know, you get a win or you get maybe even another win, that it builds some excitement around the sport. And eventually, you know, the end product to get more players playing and hopefully more players in the NHL,” Eller said.
The last two former Capitals who earned Olympic spots were defensemen Tomas Kundratek and 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Jakub Jerabek. Both were playing for the Czech Republic, who fell to Switzerland on Tuesday, 4-2. Kundratek had a goal and assist in the tournament and was a minus-3. Jerabek didn’t find the scoresheet but picked up four PIM and was a minus-4, while also wearing the “A” for Czechia.
Michal Kempny and Vitek Vanecek are both from the Czech Republic and could have been options for the Olympic team. Former Capitals forward Jakub Vrana could have also been a choice had he not been injured.
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The ROC, Sweden, Finland and Slovakia are all moving on to the semifinals, which will then decide the medal games. One former Cap
Ovechkin initially earned a spot on the ROC Olympic team, but did not attend with the NHL opting out. ROC was advocating for Evgeny Kuznetsov’s four-year ban after a positive cocaine test in 2019 to be lifted for the Games. However, the IIHF reportedly was going to uphold the suspension.
Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin had attended meetings for the Swedish national team. Backstrom, however, likely wouldn’t have played given his hip injury.
Galiyev is still playing with ROC and has a chance at gold. The Capitals originally selected him in the third round of the 2010 NHL Draft. He played in a total of 26 games for Washington, dishing four points. In 161 total games over five years in Hershey, he registered 52 goals and 95 points.
The Russian played five seasons in the Capitals organization before leaving as a free agent for the KHL in 2017. He currently plays for HC Dynamo Moscow.