Are the Capitals in a rut?
If you poll every NHL locker room today you’re sure to find a handful of players who are feeling a little betrayed by their own countries.
Last week it was Bobby Ryan feeling left out by Team USA. Today it had to be a little awkward in Tampa, where Martin St. Louis was left off Team Canada by his own general manager, Steve Yzerman.
“Everybody’s different,” said Caps coach Adam Oates. “I’m sure there are some guys that thought they were locks and didn’t get in and some guys that thought, ‘I was really close, what do I have to do to improve?’”
Capitals left wing/center Marcus Johansson probably falls into that second category. The 23-year-old native of Landskrona was left off Team Sweden on Tuesday despite a strong start this season with six goals and 22 assists. His 28 points rank ninth among Swedish-born players in the NHL.
“I think he’s been tremendous this year,” said Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, one of 25 players named to Team Sweden. “He’s developed into the player Washington wants him to be and it would have been good to see him on there. But it’s not my decision. I feel sorry for him, but he’ll be all right. He’s a strong kid.”
In the estimation of Oates, Johansson was “really close” to making Sweden’s final cut and said he could use Tuesday’s snubbing as a teaching moment at the end of the season.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about it yet, but I would imagine he had that bubble feeling, a little bit hurt,” Oates said.
“He was considered, which is good. But they want to see something else and that means you have to improve in some category and you have to figure that out.”