Caps defenseman John Carlson chosen for Team USA, Winter Olympics

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ANN ARBOR, MICH. — Capitals defenseman John Carlson made the final roster for Team USA, which will participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia next month.

The 25-man roster was announced following the NHL’s Winter Classic on Wednesday at University of Michigan Stadium between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Carlson, 23, is making his first Olympic appearance. He did help the United State to the World Juniors gold medal in 2010 when he scored the overtime winner in the final against Canada. That tournament features the top under-20 players in the world.

He is also the first Caps player ever to be selected for Team USA. Teammates Nicklas Backstrom (Sweden) and Alex Ovechkin (Russia) will again represent their countries at the Olympics. Marcus Johansson (Sweden) is a candidate as well.

Only four NHL defensemen have more goals than Carlson (7) and of those ahead of him only Boston’s Torey Krug is an American. He’s also been on the ice for 2.93 goals against per 60 minutes of ice time. That ranks well behind teammates Mike Green (2.65) and Karl Alzner (2.59).

But Carlson’s mobility should play well on the international ice surface in Sochi, where Russia will have the home-ice advantage, Canada is always a tournament favorite and Sweden might have the best overall team. Team USA earned the silver medal in Vancouver in 2010.

Thirteen of those players return for another run at gold. But the Team USA brain trust decided to go young on the blueline. Carlson is one of five defensemen age 24 or younger chosen, including Justin Faulk (Carolina), Cam Fowler (Anaheim), Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers) and Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis).

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