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11 games in, Capitals D John Carlson is looking for his first goal

11 games in, Capitals D John Carlson is looking for his first goal

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.”


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.


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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?


NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.


Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!