Quick Links

Against Devils, Caps see 'John Carlson we all know'


Against Devils, Caps see 'John Carlson we all know'

Defenseman John Carlson could not have scripted his return to the Capitals lineup any better if he had written it himself.

Playing in his first game since leaving the lineup on Feb. 24 to undergo a procedure on a lower body injury, Carlson logged 19:27 of ice time (2:06 on the power play, 3:07 on the penalty kill), blocked three shots and fired four shots on goal, the final one hitting the back of the net and giving the Caps a 1-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils 2:17 into overtime.

“I knew they were tired and I almost didn’t shoot it,” Carlson said of the Jason Chimera pass he blasted past rookie goalie Scott Wedgewood. “Chim almost thought I was going to skate in a little faster than I probably did.

“I kind of let up a little bit and the puck was going pretty slow back at me so I figured someone was going to jump in the lane and I would turn away and keep possession and keep them on the ice as long as I could. I just decided to shoot it and I didn’t know it went in at first.”

The Capitals bench erupted after the goal.

“We were fired up,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said. “It couldn’t have ended any better. His first game back, in his home state. It’s a perfect story and we were pretty happy for him. He got the helmet tonight. It was a good start to hopefully a good finish.”

Carlson played alongside Nate Schmidt and looked more like the defenseman who led the Caps’ blue line with six goals and 21 assists in his first 34 games of the season.

“He looked like the John Carlson we all know,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “He skated well, jumped up in the play, made good decisions in all areas of the game. I thought he was real solid and lo and behold he gets the game winner. It just tells you he’s a really important guy to us.”

Carlson was injured in that 34th game of the season when he blocked a shot against the Canadiens. He missed the next 12 games and when he returned on Jan. 27 everyone around him saw that his injury had not completely healed. Carlson had no goals and four assists in the 13 games following his return before the team decided he needed to undergo the undisclosed procedure.

“When he came back you could kind of tell there was still something going on,” said Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped all 22 shots he faced in Friday night’s win, his 45th of the season. “It’s a good sign for us. It looks like he’s moving better and not favoring the leg at all.”

Carlson, who grew up in Colonia, N.J. and played for the Jersey Rockets as a teenager, acknowledged as much after Friday night’s game.

“I would say different is the best way to describe it,” Carlson said of how he felt in his return. “There’s still a lot to be seen. Now I get the feel back and some of the other things you just take for granted in games that you kind of rely on.

“Every player is different but it’s breaking through the barrier of what it used to feel like and what it feels like now. You try to build on that and get as many reps as makes sense.”

Carlson seemed to suggest after the game that he’ll be back in the lineup Saturday night against the Blues.

“It’s challenging and good,” he said. “You just kind of lay it all out there and see where you’re out afterward.”

Alzner, who has played many of his 500 NHL games alongside Carlson, said watching his former partner Friday night reminded him of how important he is to the Caps’ transition game.

“One of the things I forgot about his game is his ability to pass the puck. He made some passes today where we were almost in awe on the bench, almost Nicky-esque,” Alzner said, referring to Nicklas Backstrom. “He’s one of the best defensemen in the league so when he’s in the lineup we’re better.” 

[RELATED: Carlson blasts Capitals past Devils in OT]

Quick Links

Why the suggested tweak to the goalie interference rule makes sense to Barry Trotz


Why the suggested tweak to the goalie interference rule makes sense to Barry Trotz

Goalie interference has become one of the most controversial calls in hockey and that has led to the general managers calling for a tweak to the rules before the playoffs.

As the general managers wrapped up their meetings in Florida on Wednesday, they issued a recommendation to the league’s Board of Governors that the final decision for all coach’s challenges for goaltender interference come from the Situation Room in Toronto where a retired referee will be included in the process.

If approved, the change will be enacted for the start of the playoffs.

The issue with goalie interference is consistency. It is an inherently subjective call so on any given night, it is hard to know how the rule will be officiated. That is a problem considering these calls can take goals off the board. The hope is that by requiring that all calls be made by the Situation Room, it will bring more consistency.


The news was met by skepticism from Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer.

“I can't tell you right now at this point if that's going to change anything,” he said. “If they still communicate with the linesmen, I'm sure they do, but in the end it's a grey area and it's been a grey area for a bunch of years now.”

One issue with the change is that while the Situation Room will make the final call, it will not always have the same personnel for each game and the retired referee to be included will not always be the same individual. Saying the Situation Room will make the call sounds great, but if the calls are still being reviewed by different people every night, will that really lead to greater consistency?

Head coach Barry Trotz thinks so. He applauded the change Wednesday explaining that different factors can weigh on a referee when he is the one making the call.

“Some referees who are more established and more sure of themselves, they won't reverse their calls,” Trotz said. “They just almost say, that's the way I saw it and that's the way it is and live with it. Others get swayed by what they see or maybe the crowd or another coach or how the game is going. It's no different than the student marking their own papers. Let's have a non-emotional person who has no skin in the game and is not in an emotional environment to make those calls and I think you'll find it'll be more consistent.”


If the main issue of the goalie interference was the referees being made to judge their own calls, then yes, this new rule change will go a long way towards fixing the consistency problem.

But perhaps it is unreasonable to expect calls to ever be black and white on a play and a rule that never is.

“Every situation is different,” Grubauer said. “There's no situation that's the same. Did he get bumped in? Was it intentional? Was the goalie intentional making contact? All points they have to look at and it happens so fast. I hope it's going to get better and I hope they will get a foundation down for it.”

Quick Links

Game 74 Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 74 Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Detroit Red Wings

Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Mich.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Red Wings will be broadcast on NBCSN.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Red Wings game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (42-24-7) take on the Red Wings (27-35-11) Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Detroit.


The Capitals-Red Wings game will be broadcast on NBCSN. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Check back with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Red Wings (on NBCSN)
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Red Wings game:

Alex Ovechkin -  Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body injury), Alex Chiasson, Jakub Jerabek


You can watch the Capitals-Red Wings game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.