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Capitals sound off on John Carlson's All-Star snub

Capitals sound off on John Carlson's All-Star snub

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.

RELATED: HOW DO THE CAPS GET BURAKOVSKY BACK ON TRACK? THE CAPS FACEOFF PODCAS TRIES TO FIGURE IT OUT

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.”

MORE CAPITALS: BRADEN HOLTBY MADE THE ALL-STAR GAME BECAUSE OF PLAYS LIKE THESE

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.”

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NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are singing the bye week blues

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NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are singing the bye week blues

A Capitals team that struggles after lengthy breaks is now indeed struggling after its return from the bye week. Since returning on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils, the Caps have lost three straight games including two at home with only two points to show for their efforts.

Heading into the bye, Washington looked like one of the top teams in the NHL with 14 wins in 19 games. Now, they have taken a step back and are working at returning to the level they were playing just a week ago.

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Oh, and to make matters worse, the Caps do not play again until Thursday and then are off for the All-Star break.

It's Jan. 22 and Washington has only two more games this month. Even if they do figure things out on Thursday against the Florida Panthers, they will have to figure it out all over again when they return from the All-Star break on Jan. 31 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

So where do the Caps rank after their recent slide and how far could they fall if they do not right the ship? Find out here in this week's NHL Power Rankings!

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Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again

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Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again

It was a bit of a surprise to see Jakub Vrana in the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers. On Saturday in practice, Barry Trotz mixed his lines up and it appeared that Vrana would be the odd-man out. On Sunday, however, when the team took to the ice for warmups prior to the game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Vrana lined up on the fourth line with Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly.

Did the near scratch spark Vrana to more production? Not exactly.

RELATED: HERE'S WHY THE CAPS LOST TO PHILADELPHIA

Vrana played a career-low 6:25 against the Flyers. He had zero shot attempts or hits. There were only two stats on his stat line from the final box score: One giveaway and one drawn penalty.

Despite that, Trotz was complimentary of the 21-year-old forward following the game.

"What I like about Jake, he competed," Trotz said. "I know he doesn't have the minutes tonight, but he competed and that's what the message was. I met with him this morning and a little bit on the ice the other day and I just said the skill doesn't come out unless that level of desperation and compete is there night in, night out and then you'll have production. He didn't get a lot of ice time, but I was happy with his effort."

Trotz said Vrana's ice time was low because he the team was "hard matching" later in the game against Philadelphia. It was not because of how he played.

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But ultimately, the key is to get Vrana producing again and the fourth line is not the best place to spark that. Vrana has only one point in his last 12 games which is why it seemed to make sense that he would be a healthy scratch on Sunday. For a player with his offensive skill, it is harder for him to make an impact on that back line given the limited minutes and the more defensive role. Ultimately he has to play in the top-nine in order to reach his potential on a game by game basis.

If Trotz wanted to spark more compete and more effort from Vrana, the move to the fourth line may have done the trick. But did he play well enough to warrant moving back into the top-nine? That's the ultimate question.