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SOCHI, Russia – Since that highly-anticipated day in early January when he was officially named to the Canadian Olympic team, the nerves have not stopped pumping for John Tavares. St. Louis Cardinals Jerseys . "I think Ive had em for about a month," he said. "As much as the travels been tough, I think [youre] losing a lot of sleep just because youre so anxious and so excited." Four years ago in Vancouver, it was a then-21-year-old Jonathan Toews who emerged from the lower ranks of a powerhouse roster to steer Canada to gold. Nerves aside, could the 23-year-old Tavares prove a similar dark-horse in the Canadians bid for back-to-back golds in Sochi? Save for the incomparable Sidney Crosby, no Canadian player enters the tournament with more impressive recent credentials than the captain of the New York Islanders. Tucked just behind Crosby and eventual winner Alex Ovechkin in the 2013 Hart Trophy race, Tavares has only continued his rise up the NHL ranks this season. He is now third in league scoring after a 20-point month of January which matched Phil Kessel for the league lead. In fact, only Kessel has more points (28) in 2014 than the Toronto native (22), who is on pace for a career-high 33 goals and 91 points. "I think my mindset is just to go out there and play the best I can and contribute where Im asked in the role Im asked to play in," said Tavares, who, like Toews in Vancouver, is among the younger Canadian Olympians in Sochi. "If that leads to more opportunity, responsibility thats great, but at the end of the day, its about winning one game [Thursday] and building off that and going onto the next one and hopefully, obviously to win a gold medal." Toews was Canadas 13th forward at the outset of the Games in 2010 and though Tavares enters the tournament on a first-unit power-play – alongside Crosby and Chris Kunitz – he is stationed to start Thursdays opener against Norway on a prospective bottom forward unit with fellow Olympic rookie Jamie Benn and vet Patrice Bergeron. With dangerous offensive weaponry, experience on the big ice and versatility, Tavares looks to be a prime option to rise in the lineup if chemistry elsewhere fails to materialize. The Canadian coaching staff, led by Mike Babcock, has promised that patience in that respect will be short. "Its a competitive environment," Babcock said, "and we expect our guys to compete for their ice-time." Though he has yet to appear at the Olympics, Tavares does hold excellent credentials in past appearances on the international stage. He has amassed 16 goals in 22 world championship games, adding 15 points alone in the 2009 world juniors. During the most recent NHL lockout, he produced 17 goals and 42 points in 28 games with Bern of the Swiss league. A natural centre, it was during that stint overseas that he played mostly left wing, offering Babcock versatility with a glut of centres on the roster. He even advised Tavares of that possibility during the summer orientation camp in Calgary. "Those are all things that I can draw on, experience-wise," Tavares said of his international forays. "I think the more youve played on [the big ice], the more youve been in it, the better understanding you have." For Tavares to snatch more opportunity, hell have to make the most of limited ice. Canadian executive director Steve Yzerman said earlier this week that the greatest challenge facing his group of Olympians was not the larger Olympic ice dimensions but the difficulty of making the most of a shrunken role. "He really has to park his ego at the door," said assistant coach Ken Hitchcock, speaking generally about the roster at large. "You have to understand that when its your time and its your time to go, go! Dont sit there and wonder what the coach is thinking, dont sit there and think am I going to get on the ice?, whats my family thinking?, when its your turn to go, go. "Whatever youve got, give us quality and forget about the quantity. Youve got to park the quality right up front and youve got to forget about the quantity because its not going to be the same. No player is going to play the minutes that he plays in the NHL. It isnt even going to be close. Youve got to park it." Toews averaged fewer than 15 minutes in Vancouver and yet finished as the tournaments top forward and Canadas leading scorer. He also helped shut down Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin in a dominant quarterfinal win over Russia. "Theres no time to look around and be wide-eyed," Toews advised of his mindset in 2010. "Youve got to go out there and play and just let it happen. Thats what the Olympics is all about. Theres not much time to adjust." A potent weapon, both as a sniper and playmaker – he is nearing a career-high in assists – Tavares can also be of aid to the Canada power play. The first overall pick from the 2009 draft is tied for fourth in power play points this season, trailing only Crosby, Ovechkin and the league-leader, Nicklas Backstrom. "You understand the responsibility of coming here and having to accept your role," Tavares said. "So youll be ready whenever your names called to go over [the boards] and execute." Jhonny Peralta Jersey . The 19-year-old Swiss centre back will initially have to impress in Uniteds reserve side to earn a spot in the first team. Veseli says "Manchester United has a long history of younger players coming through and hopefully I can follow and do the same. 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