The last two NHL MVPs will be charged with leading Russia to the host nation’s most coveted medal at the Sochi Olympics.
Forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin were the biggest stars on the Russian Olympic men’s hockey roster announced Tuesday.
Russia has never won an Olympic gold medal in men’s hockey. The Soviet Union/Unified Team won every Olympic title from 1964 through 1992 except for 1980.
Ovechkin and Malkin were on the 2006 and 2010 teams that finished fourth and sixth, respectively.
Russia will play the U.S. in a group-stage game on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 a.m. live on NBCSN. Slovakia and Slovenia are also in the group. All 12 teams over three groups will advance to the playoffs, but the top four teams overall receive byes into quarterfinals.
Russia is expected to start the Colorado Avalanche’s Semyon Varlamov in goal, despite his off-the-ice issues. He’s been among the top 10 or 15 goalies in the NHL this season.
Other notables include multiple-time NHL All-Star forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk, who is now in the KHL.
Defenseman Sergei Gonchar, 39, did not make the team in a bid for a fifth Olympics. Neither did Carolina Hurricanes star Alexander Semin.
KHL forward Viktor Tikhonov is the grandson of the coach of the 1980 Soviet Union Olympic hockey team that lost to the U.S.
Here’s Russia’s full roster:
Sergei Bobrovsky — Columbus Blue Jackets
Semyon Varlamov — Colorado Avalanche
Anton Belov — Edmonton Oilers
Alexei Emelin — Montreal Canadiens
Andrei Markov — Montreal Canadiens
Nikita Nikitin — Columbus Blue Jackets
Fedor Tyutin — Columbus Blue Jackets
Slava Voynov — Los Angeles Kings
Artem Anisimov — Columbus Blue Jackets
Pavel Datsyuk — Detroit Red Wings
Nikolai Kulemin — Toronto Maple Leafs
Evgeni Malkin — Pittsburgh Penguins
Valeri Nichushkin — Dallas Stars
Alex Ovechkin — Washington Capitals
Vladimir Tarasenko — St. Louis Blues
Ilya Kovalchuk — former NHL player
Alexander Radulov — former Nashville Predators player
Viktor Tikhonov — former Phoenix Coyotes player