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It ain't crazy to say John Carlson can win the Norris Trophy

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NBC Sports Washington

It ain't crazy to say John Carlson can win the Norris Trophy

We knew John Carlson was good, but we didn’t know he could be this good.

Carlson led all defensemen in points last season with 68, shattering his previous career-high of 55.

The 28-year-old blueliner established himself as the team’s top defenseman in the wake of an injury to Matt Niskanen. In the month Niskanen was out of the lineup in October and November, Carlson led the NHL in time on ice per game at 27:47.

Before, Carlson was known as a puck-moving defenseman who was far more skilled in the offensive zone than the defensive. Playing nearly 30 minutes per game, Carlson showed he was a much more balanced player than previously thought as he was tasked with playing difficult minutes against tough competition on both ends of the ice.

It was an eye-opening season that established Carlson as a top defenseman, and he did it while playing the majority of the season with a rookie defenseman as his partner in Christian Djoos.

The addition of Michal Kempny to the lineup gave the Caps’ blueline a boost last season and solidified the team’s top-four on defense. Now, Carlson and Kempny are expected to start the season as the team’s top pair, giving Carlson an advantage he did not get in his career year last season.

Even with a new long-term deal in hand, don’t be surprised if Carlson looks even better in 2018-19. He established as one of the top defenseman in the league, and defensive guru Todd Reirden is now the man in charge as head coach. As he enters the season on the top pairing with an established partner, there’s no reason to think Carlson won’t put up similar offensive numbers as last year, that he won’t continue his strong play on the defensive end of the ice and that he won’t be among the finalists for the Norris Trophy.

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Hath's Heroes is keeping Garnet Hathaway busy during the quarantine

Hath's Heroes is keeping Garnet Hathaway busy during the quarantine

Like the rest of us, Capitals' winger Garnet Hathaway is just trying to stay sane and helping out where he can.

His charity, Hath's Heroes, which provides meals to first responders, is especially important in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Hath's Heroes started working with Capitals' Chef Robert "Robbie" Wood to provide even more meals to first responders, which Wood is matching, plus an additional meal to a high-risk individual in need.

“Chef Robbie has been serving the Caps for a long time and makes unbelievable food, I can attest to it, and they also have a great initiative with Kid Power and DC Central Kitchen," Hathaway said on the Capitals Talk Podcast.

While many are fortunate to be able to work from home or be with family during the pandemic, first responders are out on the front lines.

“It’s the social responsibility of staying safe, keeping your distance and trying to stay healthy and protecting those around you," Hathaway said. "So I feel that’s where we can all feel great about helping somebody, by taking responsibility for your actions and helping out if you can."

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Doing one's part is important to flatten the curve and Hathaway says donations of any amount are appreciated.

“For donations, if you can, if you have the opportunity to and you’re capable of, any amount really does make a difference.”

When he's not working with Hath's Heroes, Hathaway has been spending time with his fianceé and dog and trying to learn the Harmonica he got for Christmas. "Silent Night" was the first song he learned to play.

“Months away from the Christmas season, but I think I’ll be ready by then," Hathaway said.

Aside from downtime, Hathaway has taken solace in finding structure in his day.

“I think the biggest thing is trying to find a structure that works, that I can stay physically healthy and mentally healthy." 

“For everyone that’s feeling cooped up in their house, they gotta stay active and they gotta get some fresh air and they gotta stay healthy," Hathaway said.

While everyone has been binge-watching Netflix's hit documentary "Tiger King," Hathaway says he hasn't had the opportunity to watch yet.

“I might be the only person in America not watching Tiger King, but that’s not to say that I won’t get there at some point."

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Bachelorette's Dylan Barbour on which Caps player he most identifies with

Bachelorette's Dylan Barbour on which Caps player he most identifies with

In a fun Twitter thread Wednesday, the Nashville Predators said which NHL teams notable Bachelor and Bachelorette alum align with.

The Caps lucked out and got the dependable Dylan Barbour who is "solid" and "committed," a testament that Barbour himself agreed with.

"It's the Caps' year," Barbour told NBC Sports Washington in a private message on Twitter. "They're dependable. Committed is great."

Although Barbour doesn't consider himself a hockey fan, he said he would most identify with "whoever the nice handsome one is."

Though Barbour doesn't seem to be a big enough Caps fan to know that most fans would give that award to Tom Wilson, he was nice enough to say he thinks it's the Caps' year.

And we've successfully created a new Tom Wilson stan!

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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