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Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom ask ‘What then?’ in new commercial

Alex Ovechkin, Nastya Ovechkina and Nicklas Backstrom star in a new life insurance commercial. (Courtesy of the NHL)

For only the second Capitals regular season opener since Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom became teammates in 2007, they won’t both be on the ice when Washington opens its 2021-22 campaign Wednesday against the New York Rangers. Fans will still see the franchise’s two leading scorers together, however, in an unintentionally topical new commercial.

In the 30-second MassMutual spot, which debuted Tuesday and will air throughout the season on ESPN, TNT and NHL Network, Ovechkin is lounging on his couch and enjoying a bowl of cereal when his wife, Nastya, asks him why Backstrom is on his life insurance policy.

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“We are a duo,” replies the Capitals’ captain, who suffered a lower-body injury in Washington’s preseason finale and is questionable for Wednesday’s game.

“A duo?” his wife asks.

“Yeah, if something happens to me, who’s Backy going to pass the puck to?” Ovechkin says. “His power-play points might drop. How will he will get his assists? What then?”

The camera cuts to Backstrom wearing sweats and downing a bowl of cereal at the other end of the couch.

“Yeah, what then?” Backstrom, who will be out until at least November with a hip injury, says before slurping the milk in his bowl.

(The Capitals and their fans aren’t eager to find out!)

The amusing ad ends with a shot of an end table, where a framed photo of Ovechkin with his arm around Backstrom on the night Backstrom recorded his 500th career assist is prominently displayed next to a smaller framed wedding photo of Ovechkin and his wife.

Backstrom, who in March became the first player in franchise history to reach 700 assists, has assisted on 269 of Ovechkin’s 730 regular season goals, which is more than any other player, including three in season openers. In a reversal of their regular roles, Ovechkin assisted Backstrom on Washington’s first goal of the shortened 2021 season. The 36-year-old Ovechkin, who was on the ice for the Capitals’ optional practice Tuesday, is one goal shy of tying Marcel Dionne for fifth on the all-time list and 164 goals behind Wayne Gretzky for the No. 1 spot.

In April, Ovechkin told NBC Sports Washington that his favorite assist from Backstrom came in Game 5 of the 2018 Stanley Cup finals, a smooth pass through traffic in front of the net that set up a one-timer on the power play to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead over the Vegas Golden Knights. Through a team spokesman, Backstrom said that assist also ranks as his favorite.

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The ever-humble Backstrom refused to take much credit for his part in the commercial, which was shot at a rental home in Arlington last month.

“I showed up a little bit later,” he said. “Ovi and Nastya had been working on it for a while. It took a little while, but overall it went pretty smooth. They had to do the hard work.”

“I finished a whole box of cereal,” Ovechkin said. “It was fun. I had a good time.”

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