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NHL All-Star Game 2018: Holtby gets ASG invite but Carlson a notable snub

NHL All-Star Game 2018: Holtby gets ASG invite but Carlson a notable snub

Another Capital has been added to the roster for the All-Star Game, but it probably wasn't the one you were expecting.

Goalie Braden Holtby was selected to participate in the NHL All-Star Game as part of the Metropolitan Division team as announced on Wednesday. He will join teammates Alex Ovechkin and head coach Barry Trotz who were previously named to the All-Star Game as captain and coach respectively.

The big story here is not who was selected, but who was not. Noticeably absent from the Metropolitan Team is defenseman John Carlson.

Carlson saw his role on the team increased this season due to injuries to Matt Niskanen and two rookie defensemen in the lineup. He currently averages 26:17 of ice time per game, good for fourth in the NHL. His 34 points this season also ranks second among all defensemen behind only Dallas' John Klingberg.

RELATED: LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CAPS PROSPECT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT FROM THE WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP

After scoring his fifth goal of the season in Tuesday's win over the Vancouver Canucks, Trotz gave an impassioned plea for his defenseman to make the team.

"He should be on it, absolutely," Trotz said. "In our situation with Matt Niskanen out, I think people really stepped up and John has. John has gotten better every year. He works with [associate coach] Todd Reirden and Toddd's done a really good job with him and the staff. I think he's taking that bigger role."

Those pleas evidently fell on deaf ears as Carlson was passed over in favor of Seth Jones, Noah Hanifin and Kris Letang.

This marks the third consecutive selection for Braden Holtby who has certainly established himself among the NHL's elite netminders. While Holtby's save percentage and GAA are down compared to previous years, he still ranks second in the NHL in wins with 24 behind only Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning. That is notable considering he ranks tied for 15th in games played and is playing behind a blue line that includes two rookie defensemen.

MORE CAPITALS: SMITH-PELLY WOULDN'T CALL HUTTON'S HIT DIRTY, BUT STILL FELT HE HAD TO FIGHT HIM

Here is the full Metropolitan Division Roster:

Head coach Barry Trotz

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin (captain), Washington Capitals
Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Josh Bailey, New York Islanders
John Tavares, New York Islanders
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

Defensemen
Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
Noah Hanifin, Carolina Hurricanes
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins

Goalies
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

Even without Carlson, the Caps will still be well represented with two players and the head coach. No other team in the Metro had more than two players.

The All-Star Game will take place in Tampa Bay on Jan. 28.

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

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USA TODAY Sports

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.