Photo: Mark Blinch/Getty Images
There are many storylines about the Washington Capitals as they trail their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the New York Islanders 3-0 after a 2-1 overtime loss in Game 3 on Sunday afternoon. One that seems to have gone under the radar is the play of Norris Trophy (awarded to NHL’s best defenseman after each season) candidate John Carlson after he missed all three round-robin tournament games due to injury.
While the 30-year-old leads the team with four points (all assists), he has recorded a -8 rating (a team-worst), a 36.84% Corsi-for percentage (a team-worst), a 24.6% expected goals percentage (a team-worst), a 0.85 expected goals-for, and a 33.33% scoring-chances for percentage. In fact, Carlson has been on the ice for eight of the Islanders’ 11 goals this series.
Carlson also has no takeaways, three giveaways, five blocked shots, and four hits during the series against the Islanders.
The Capitals opted to rest Carlson, who was victimized on center Mathew Barzal’s overtime winner in Game 3 as Barzal curled the puck around him to take the puck to the net, during the round-robin tournament. Still, it appears that it did not work as they got into the first-round.
Carlson has only a single point at five-on-five, which was a secondary assist.
The drop off in his play is a drastic 180 from his during the regular season, when Carlson led all NHL defensemen with 60 assists (by ten) and 75 points (by ten), was tied for fourth with 15 goals, and posted a solid +12 rating. Though he fell off after a hot start, recording only four goals, 32 points, and a -8 rating in his final 38 regular-season games since December 9. Carlson tallied 11 goals, 43 points, and a +20 rating in his first 31 games.
While there are plenty of players that need to step up if the Capitals want to come back in the series (namely forward Jakub Vrana and center Lars Eller, who each have no goals in the series; Eller has a point while Vrana has none), it all starts with Carlson, arguably the team’s best player from the regular season. If others step up, especially Carlson, the Capitals might have a chance to make this series a bit more interesting. If not, forget it.
By Harrison Brown