It’s hard to say whether Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner was being honest or modest about his chances of making the Canadian Olympic team.
“It’s not something that ever even crossed my mind,” Alzner said about being invited to the Canadian Olympic orientation camp Aug. 25-28 in Calgary.
“Once I made it to the NHL, making the Olympics seemed like the furthest thing possible to me. So the fact I’m even in the same breath is remarkable. I’m more than happy to even be held in the same company as these guys.”
Alzner is one of 17 defensemen who have been invited to Canada’s Olympic camp. General manager Steve Yzerman plans on taking just eight to Sochi, Russia for the Olympics.
But Alzner has something in his favor – he is one of just eight left-handed shooters in the bunch. Caps defenseman Mike Green is one of nine righties.
If Adam Oates was coaching Team Canada that would be of utmost importance. Oates is adamant about having right-handers on the right side of the ice and lefties on the left. Just ask Steve Oleksy, who got a shot in the NHL largely because he shoots right.
Yzerman is not as particular when it comes to having a similar balance.
“I do like the idea of having a right and a left together,” he told reporters earlier this week, “but I don’t think it’s the end all. Ultimately, the two guys who are playing the best will go out there.”
Alzner believes his biggest competition at orientation camp will be stay-at-homers Methot, Vlasic and Staal. Staal is coming off a serious eye injury that sidelined him for all but one playoff game.
Alzner will need to have a solid showing in Calgary and a very strong first half of the season to earn a spot on Canada’s roster. Ironically, so will his projected defense partner.
Green is coming off a season [12 goals, 14 assists in 35 games] that would have warranted Norris Trophy consideration if he had stayed healthy all year.
Green will need to put up similar numbers if he hopes to beat out a group of right-handers that includes Drew Doughty, Kris Letang, P.K. Subban, Shea Weber, Alex Pietrangelo, Brent Seabrook, Travis Hamonic and Dan Boyle.
It will be interesting to see if playing on a wider ice surface and the ability to run a power play will benefit skaters like Green when it comes to naming the eight blue liners heading to Russia.
“We're not putting together a team for an NHL All-Star Game,” Yzerman said. “We’re putting together the best possible team we can to compete against the best players in the world and try and win a gold medal. Part of that comes with picking players who can do specific things for us.”