Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson told the media on Tuesday that “certain aspects” are better in the first few games of this season compared to the first few games in the NHL bubble during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He added that everybody has different opinions regarding the comparison of the two. “I think I feel pretty similar [than I did in the tournament]. I would say a little better” with more time to prepare since there was no lockdown interfering with offseason preparations.
On facing former head coach Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders on Tuesday (7 PM ET, NBCSN nationally, NBC Sports Washington locally) for the first time since getting eliminated in five games in the first round in August against them, Carlson said: “As a player, you have something against the other team or make something against the other team.”
When asked about defenseman Zdeno Chara’s presence on the team, Carlson told the media that “He’s a leader. Everyone looks up to him and he’s certainly not just looking around trying to make assumptions about people. He wants to get to know you and be a part of the process.”
Carlson said that “The goal is to take as much information as you can from anyone,” when asked about assistant coach Kevin McCarthy, who works with the Capitals’ defensemen. He feels like he has a good relationship with him and that his coaching has “been nice for the ‘D’ too” since he was with Laviolette before.
On missing captain Alex Ovechkin, center Evgeny Kuznetsov, goaltender Ilya Samsonov, and defenseman Dmitry Orlov from the lineup as all are on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, Carlson feels like “I think it helps them. … It gives us a lot of confidence.” He feels like their absences gives players who have not played as much more of a chance.
When asked whether he would keep this season’s format with only intradivision play for the future, the 31-year-old responded “Absolutely not. I would never vote for something like this.” He thinks that this format is beneficial for right now but added “I like it how it was.”
Carlson feels like we will see some of that “rivalry mentality” the deeper into the season the Capitals get.
By Harrison Brown