The Capitals will be well represented at the All-Star Game with two players, the head coach and members of the team's equipment staff all taking part. Heck, even Slapshot will be there.
But all the talk around the team Tuesday was about who was not selected to participate: John Carlson
“I was supremely disappointed that Carlson, I think it’s a crime that he didn’t make it,” Barry Trotz said.
Carlson, who did not speak to the media after Tuesday's morning skate, has scored 34 points in 43 games this season and plays an average of 26:17 per game for a team that currently sits in first place of the Metropolitan Division. His role has increased substantially this season with two rookie defensemen playing regularly and injuries limiting Matt Niskanen to only 29 of the team’s first 43 games.
To many, an invite to what would have been his first All-Star appearance seemed like a formality. Yet, when the teams were announced Wednesday, Carlson was passed over for Kris Letang, Seth Jones and Noah Hanifin.
That is not sitting well with the Caps.
“I know he's been one of the best defensemen,” Trotz said. “I know how much he's meant to us as a group and especially with Nisky out early in the year and how many minutes he's had to play, playing with pure rookies on the back end and helping them along. I just think he should have been there.”
“I wouldn't put much value into the All-Star Game selections,” Brooks Orpik said. “I mean, Nicky Backstrom has played one, I think, so that tells you enough about the selection process for that.”
Of all the defensemen selected for the All-Star Game across the NHL, only one player, Dallas’ John Klingberg, has more points than Carlson. Only two players selected, Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson, average more ice time per game.
But there is some silver lining to the snub.
“Selfishly speaking, I'm glad Carly's not going so he gets some extra rest,” Orpik said. “With the amount of minutes he's been playing this year, he's obviously had to step up a lot with the guys that we lost from last year. Especially when Nisky was out this year, he was probably pressed to play probably in more minutes than he probably should have been, but he didn't complain. He did a really good job with it.”
The All-Star break does give time off to those players who are not fortunate enough to go so it could be beneficial for Carlson to have a few extra days off considering how much Trotz continues to lean on him.
But even if it would be better for the Caps if Carlson did not go, Trotz is still holding out hope his star defenseman gets a shot.
“I really truly believe he should be on that group,” Trotz said. “Who knows? There's a few days here and something might happen. I hope he has that experience because he deserves it.”