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Capitals breakdown: John Carlson


Capitals breakdown: John Carlson Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: John Carlson

John CarlsonPosition: Defense
Age: 22
HtWt: 6-3, 212
Games: 82
Goals: 9
Assists: 23
Points: 32
Penalty minutes: 22
Plus-Minus: Minus-15
Average Ice Time: 21:51
Contract Status: Restricted Free Agent 845,833 cap hit in 2011-12

Strengths: Among Caps defensemen, Carlson ranked second behind Dennis Wideman in goals, assists, points and ice time. He led the team in blocked shots in both the regular season 153 and playoffs 38. He is one of just three Capitals Karl Alzner and Brooks Laich are the others who have played in all 82 games in each of the past two seasons. Carlson has a deceptively hard and accurate shot and he paired up with Alzner to form a strong top defensive unit down the stretch and in the playoffs.

Weaknesses: Despite his strong offensive numbers, Carlson suffered through bouts of inconsistency during the regular season, a normal occurrence for a second-year player. His minus-15 was tied for team worst and his occasional defensive lapses left fans wanting more.

Memorable Moment on the ice: On Dec. 5, Carlson recorded a career-high three assists and was a plus-3, leading the Capitals to a rally that fell just short in a 5-4 loss to the Florida Panthers. The following week he was named the NHLs Third Star of the Week with one goal and six assists in a three-game stretch in which his ice time increased dramatically under Dale Hunter.

Memorable Moment off the ice: Before the Capitals faced off against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals Carlson was asked if he was a Rangers fan growing up in northern New Jersey. No, I didn't like them, said Carlson, who was born in Natlick, Mass., and attended high school in Metuchen, N.J. I was pretty much a Bruins fan, actually, and then I kind of adapted a little bit to the Devils because of living near them and being able to catch a few games. But never really a Rangers fan, no.

2012-13 Expectations: With Wideman likely to sign elsewhere on July 1 the Capitals will need to re-sign Carlson and rely on him to build on the 32-point season he had in 2011-12. If he can turn around his plus-minus he went from plus-21 as a rookie to minus-15 this season Carlson and Alzner have a chance to be one of the NHLs top defensive units.

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Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

The Capitals may have won the game Friday against the New York Islanders, but now they will wait to see if they also suffered a significant loss.

Kuznetsov left the game in the third period after taking a slash from Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey which sent him sliding head-first into the boards. The team labeled the issue as “upper body” when it was announced he would not return to the game.

Head coach Barry Trotz was tight-lipped afterward on Kuznetsov’s status.

“They're going to re-evaluate him tomorrow and we'll have some clarity hopefully tomorrow,” he said.


You can see the play here:

When Kuznetsov is first slashed he immediately reacts. His feet then catch the stick of goalie Jaroslav Halak which sends him tripping and sliding hard into the boards. He sat on the ice for several minutes afterward and was looked at by the trainer before getting to his feet and slowly making his way to the locker room.

When asked after the game what he felt about the slash, Trotz said only, “Hockey play.”

One of the Capitals’ biggest strengths as a team is their depth down the middle. Any injury to a center, considering it is arguably the most important skating position on the ice, would be significant. An injury to the team’s top-line center would be even more costly.

Kuznetsov leads the team with 28 assists and ranks second in both goals (21) and points (69).

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3 stars of the game: Caps win brutal rematch to sweep home-and-home with Islanders

3 stars of the game: Caps win brutal rematch to sweep home-and-home with Islanders

The Caps rocked the green in warmups, the red for the game and left a bit black and blue after a brutal 6-3 win over the New York Islanders.

Based on how things went in Brooklyn on Thursday, odds were that there would be some bad blood when the two teams met Washington on Friday. One night after giving up seven goals, the Islanders gave up another six in Washington and frustrations over a rough season boiled over all game long.

Ross Johnston was ejected for continuing to fight Tom Wilson even after the referees intervened, both teams combined for 56 PIMs and Evgeny Kuznetsov left the game in the second period after a slash from Thomas Hickey as he went headfirst into the boards.

The sting of the rough night was mitigated somewhat, however, by the 6-3 score as the Caps won their fourth straight.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Alex Chiasson: Playing in his first game since March 8, Chiasson made the most of his opportunity with a three-point night. Jakub Vrana did the legwork as he drove the net with the puck. Jaroslav Halak stuck out his stick catching Vrana which spun the netminder around and out of the crease. Chiasson came up behind for the easy layup.

He would repay the favor with an assist for Vrana's goal later in the third. Chiasson's first assist on the night came in the second period as his initial shot was saved, but he stayed in the face of Halak long enough to prevent him from making the save on Matt Niskanen's goal.

2. Nicklas Backstrom: When things were getting ugly, Backstrom made the Islanders pay with a power play goal on the two-man advantage.

After Johnston lost his marbles and Cal Clutterbuck was called for interference on Oshie, the Capitals needed to take advantage and put the Islanders away or watch New York build momentum. That was the critical juncture of the game. Backstrom also added an assist on the two-point night.

3. Braden Holtby: The recent struggles of Holtby have been well documented. After yielding the crease to Philipp Grubauer the last four games, Holtby got the start on Friday and played very well in the winning effort. The defense in front of him certainly helped allowing only 13 shots in the first two periods, but the Islanders were buzzing in the third period. New York battled back to make it 5-3 and Mathew Barzal had a breakaway opportunity with a chance to cut the deficit to one. Holtby made the save to deny Barzal and shut the door on the comeback attempt.

In all, Holtby turned aside 22 of the 25 shots he faced.