Although Barry Trotz has been pleased with John Carlson’s play over the first three-plus weeks, the Capitals’ head coach did point to one area where he'd like to see more from his team's ice time leader.
“[We] expect him to score a little bit more,” Trotz said after practice on Sunday.
“He hasn't scored yet. He's got a few assists. But [the goals] will come. He's got a big shot. He's big on the power play.”
RELATED: UPDATED NHL POWER RANKINGS
The Capitals have played only 11 games, so it’s not a big deal that Carlson is still looking for his first tally. But it could become an issue should the drought continue much longer.
For comparison’s sake, Carlson had two goals in the first 11 games last season on his way to eight in an injury curtailed campaign. In 2014-15, when he tallied a career-best 12 goals, he also had two at this point in the season.
While Trotz didn’t offer any specific reasons for the slower-than-usual start, he did note that Carlson, whose 34 shots rank second behind Alex Ovechkin's 49, is adjusting to playing with a new defensive partner in Dmitry Orlov.
Trotz also mentioned that Carlson’s preseason was hampered a bit by an undisclosed injury the blueliner picked up while skating for Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey.
“I think with John, he's an elite defenseman in this league,” Trotz said, asked to assess Carlson’s overall play this season. “I mean, he's one of the better guys at jumping up. He's got size. He's got the skill. He can play any type of game that really is thrown his way. Right now, he's got a new partner he's dealing with, with Orlov. They seem to make things go offensively [and] give us maybe a more dynamic pairing where they can move around a little bit. There's a little bit more movement with that.”
Trotz added: “The biggest thing with John, he got a little nicked up during the World Cup. Just coming back, just getting his game to where he wants [it] to be was a little bit of a chore through training camp and after the World Cup. But he's been fine.”
Asked whether Carlson has been playing through the injury, Trotz indicated that he’s been healthy.
“He started behind a little bit because he got nicked up early,” he said. “He's been fine. Obviously, new partner, new team, different lines, all that.”
Again, the season is not even a dozen games old yet so there’s not much reason to worry. But it sure wouldn't hurt if the Capitals' best offensive defenseman began hitting the back of the net with regularity. And sooner rather than later.
RELATED: HOCKEY DOG IS GOOD DOG