Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images
While it may be hard to believe, Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is in his 11th NHL season and is fast approaching 500 career points, looking to become the only blueliner in franchise history to reach the mark. On Thursday prior to the team’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Carlson spoke with the media via teleconference about his close milestone, the Capitals’ power play success and struggles, and his childhood playing inspiration growing up in New Jersey.With Carlson just one point shy of reaching 500 career points, the first question pertained to his thoughts on the mark and whether he is cognizant of the number when he takes the ice. As with most players, Carlson humbly denied, saying, “No, probably once I achieve it, but we got a lot of time left in the year so it’s not something day-to-day I think about, no”.
The former first-round pick was then asked about his own game in the last handful of games, and said he believes that he has picked up his performance, stating, “I felt like I had a down couple of games a few games ago, but the last three or so games I feel like I’ve been starting to play a lot better. It’s part of the season, part of playing against teams that we have and the talent that we have they’re always coming at us”.
Carlson was asked about the difference between the Capitals’ power play performance on the road versus at Capital One Arena, and the Norris Trophy runner-up stated his belief that the unit should perform equally on both fronts:
“I don’t know, it clearly doesn’t matter where we’re playing right now, in my mind it’s just we’ve had really poor showings on the road, and that’s something that as time goes on and fans do come back, and home ice advantage gets greater and greater, that we’re gonna need to make adjustments and we’re not going to change our power play because if it works at home it should work on the road, but I think urgency, it feels like for whatever reason we have more urgency at home than we do on the road and that’s something we’ve been talking about all year but haven’t been able to execute nearly, not even close as we have been at home”.
Carlson also touched on whether opposing teams are taking away Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin on the man-advantage and if the team is not getting the puck to him as much, saying, “I think both, and I think any power play he’s the best goal-scorer ever and option one and everybody in the world knows that. But you’re just trying to find the advantage…wherever it is and if they’re going to play a certain way then we should be able to quickly and easily identify it and move on to another, better scoring position to get our chances from. How I look at it is he should get the puck whenever he can and if they take him away, it should be easier for us to digest whatever else is going”.
Lastly, Carlson touched on when he became a defenseman in his childhood playing career and his inspirations growing up in New Jersey. Carlson revealed that he became a rearguard in Peewee when his coach at the time asked him to play defense. On his inspiration, “I had plenty of great ones to watch. I don’t think I watched as much hockey as most NHL players growing up, but Scott Stevens was there and just the way it worked I got to watch him the most out of anyone”.
Morning skate sound featuring John Carlson, Ilya Samsonov and head coach Peter Laviolette. #CapsFlyers
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 11, 2021
By Michael Fleetwood