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Capitals' John Carlson ready to embrace change

Capitals' John Carlson ready to embrace change

For the first time in a few years, substantial changes are coming to the Capitals’ roster.

John Carlson is fully aware of that fact—and he’s ready to embrace the turnover.

“It’s good,” Carlson said Friday. “You hate to see friends and teammates and great players leave, but it’s also great to get some fresh faces, some young guys to bring up the energy all the time.”

The veteran defenseman added: “I think it’s going to be good for us, so I’m excited for it. It adds a different dynamic and it can help everybody.”

RELATED: Penguins goalie considers Holtby an idol

Indeed, the spots occupied by Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt, Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson and Daniel Winnik will now be filled by younger, less expensive players as the Caps shoehorn their roster under the $75 million salary cap ceiling.

“I’m kinda used to it by now,” Carlson said. “No team ever stays the same. Well, maybe [last] year. A lot of them were guys that had been here for my whole career almost. So in that respect, it’s tough to see them leave.”

Carlson made his comments at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where he's been skating and working out in recent weeks. He was the only NHL player on the ice Friday—Alzner, now a Canadien, has made some appearances as well—though the group is expected to grow in the coming days as players trickle back into town.

Training camp opens in mid-September.

All told, the Caps figure to have three new forwards and a new defenseman or two in the lineup when the season opens Oct. 5 in Ottawa.  

Depending on how things shake out, in fact, it’s possible one of those youngsters will be paired up with Carlson.

When Carlson broke into the NHL, there were a handful of solid pros in Caps’ room, like Mike Knuble, for him to learn from. Now, nine years into his career, Carlson says he’s looking forward to returning the favor.

“Last year we didn’t have many young guys,” he said. “It’ll be the first taste of the NHL for a lot of them. You got to show them the ropes. People did that for me. People helped me along the way. Whether it’s forwards or Ds, it doesn’t matter, it’s about showing them how to have success.”

Carlson added: “I think we have tremendous leaders in the locker room. There’s a lot of guys that have played a lot of games. …I know the quality of the people we have and I know they’ll step up and make sure everyone is comfortable from day one.”

In addition to the potential benefits of injecting youth into the lineup, there’s one more reason Carlson is looking forward to September: he hopes the buzz and anticipation of a new season will help him put last spring’s playoff disappointment in the rearview, finally.

“You still think about it all the time,” Carlson said of the second round loss to the Penguins. “You run into people, talk to people, it always kinda comes up. There’s no hiding from it. But once camp starts, you really just have to shift your focus and make sure that what we’re doing now is going to set us up for the end of this year. You can’t be looking back like that.”

MORE CAPITALS: The 12 best Caps moments at Verizon Center

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We have ourselves a goalie rotation in Washington


We have ourselves a goalie rotation in Washington

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

USA Today Sports

NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.