What Is Wrong With Capitals’ John Carlson?

Mark Blinch:Getty ImagesPhoto: 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

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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6 Responses to What Is Wrong With Capitals’ John Carlson?

  1. Anonymous says:

    He certainly looks different than regular season. He may be still dealing with the injury he suffered in exhibition game.

    • Diane Doyle says:

      That would not be a surprise. These injuries can take a while to recover from.

      • Anonymous says:

        If he’s dealing with an injury, I’m inclined to sit him for Game 4. We are only speculating, but he’s not helping the situation by playing hurt.

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        I think I would sit him. If he’s dealing with an injury, it’s really not helping the situation. At least rest him for Game 4. We really,don’t know what he’s dealing with, but his numbers are poor, regardless.

  2. Mark Eiben says:

    Depending on the injury (who knows) but like Hedman I hope he takes a shot to dull the pain and just plays tonight. This could be the last game. He will have 3 or 4 months to recover after if they lose tonight.

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