In a sport where injuries of all sorts are commonplace, simply staying on the ice in the NHL can be a feat of its own. NHL players are expected to battle through most ailments and they hold a reputation for many as the toughest in the world of sports.
So, for John Carlson to play in his 400th consecutive game on Friday night - a streak which ranks second among active defensemen - much has been needed. He has had the benefit of avoiding major injuries. There has perhaps been some luck. But most of all, there has been a simple desire to play the game he loves.
"It's not easy to do in this league, so I guess it's a cool feat. I don't really think about it too much. I just want to play in every game. That's my goal," he said.
Carlson has dealt with injuries, of course. He has just been able to overcome them and remain in the Capitals' lineup. Since 2010, Carlson has been there for the Caps every single night.
"Anybody goes through little things. Nobody really knows what anybody's going through. I'm not some type of hero. Everybody does it on pretty much a day-by-day basis. There's not too many times where you go a week or two with absolutely nothing wrong with you and feeling great. It just comes down to everyone wanting to play for the team," he said.
Carlson has the second-longest consecutive games streak in franchise history, trailing only Bob Carpenter, whose run was snapped at 422. He is one of only three defensemen - teammate Karl Alzner included - to have appeared in every regular season game of the last six seasons. He has the seventh-longest streak for a defenseman since 1943-44.
Remaining in the lineup as a defenseman is no small feat and Capitals head coach Barry Trotz explained exactly why that is.
"When you have a streaks of that many games in a row, it's becoming very impressive in this league and especially for defensemen. Because you can't hole up anymore. You have to go back for pucks under duress with guys bearing down on you. Interference is called. You can't interfere and get away with it like you used to. So, you take some hits a lot of times with guys coming with speed. It is very impressive," he said.
Carlson doesn't only put himself in harm's way defending in 5-on-5 situations, he also participates in the penalty kill.
"It's impressive because he's on both special teams and especially the penalty kill," Trotz continued. "Sometimes you're demanded to block a shot, especially coming off that backwall as a defenseman. That's your lane, you've got to block it. And pucks can hit you in many different areas: the hands, the wrists, all over. That can cause injury. Plus, he plays the game against top people. That puts a lot of strain on you."
Carlson added two assists in the game, which was already set to be a special night. It was his second straight multi-assist night and the fourth he has posted this season.
"He's a young guy who's evolved and continues to evolve as a top defenseman in this league. It is very impressive," Trotz said.