BUFFALO — It was a damaged play, T.J. Oshie whiffing on a puck that took a lucky slide over to John Carlson on the aim line, someway scoring from that odd angle as a result of Coyotes goaltender Scott Wedgewood had anticipated the shot to return from Oshie.
The components to Carlson’s first aim of the season had been peculiar and arguably fortunate, however the reward was earned. That shot was Carlson’s 50th of the season, and solely San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns has taken extra pictures (56) with out scoring a aim. It got here in Carlson’s 27th minute on the ice, a comparatively common workload for him contemplating he’s now the league’s time on ice chief with 27:41 per sport.
With the Capitals’ blue line much less skilled this season and defenseman Matt Niskanen out for the previous month with a left hand harm, nobody has been leaned on greater than Carlson. His time on ice is at a career-high, up almost 5 minutes per sport from final season. With Carlson in a contract 12 months, Washington has mentioned this new taxing duty is a chance for him to point out he’s an elite defenseman, nevertheless it’s been a problem for him to stability that with chipping in offensively, although he’s the most efficient of the Capitals’ blue-liners.
His additional time aim in Washington’s Three-2 win over Arizona on Monday night time was simply one other signal he’s beginning to settle into his new position.
“It’s just a little harder for guys like Carly to get offense once you’re enjoying 28 minutes an evening versus 20,” Coach Barry Trotz mentioned final week. “It solely appears like eight minutes, however these are arduous minutes. So, you don’t rise up the ice as a lot. You’re asking a D to be a part of your offense, however on the identical time, they won't have sufficient fuel generally to rise up. . . . It's problematic generally to your two or three guys who get big-time minutes.”
Stated Carlson: “I don’t know if there’s a getting used to it. You’ve bought to at all times manufacture vitality and ensure you’re there as a result of little issues right here and there, guys are too good up and down lineups all through the league. I simply assume it’s a mind-set factor you retain getting higher at, and we’ll see the way it goes.”
Although Carlson is enjoying the hardest competitors at even power, Washington remains to be taking nearly all of five-on-five shot makes an attempt when he’s on the ice. The aim manufacturing didn’t come till Monday night time, however he’s steadily racked up 11 factors with 10 assists by the primary 15 video games of the season. Most of that has been at even power because the Capitals’ energy play has struggled to begin the season.
“I’m simply capturing both to create or make stuff occur, get it in entrance when there’s our bodies there and hope for a tip,” Carlson mentioned. “As a D, if there’s no screens, it’s powerful to beat the goalie from the purpose. There’s a bunch of [shots] in there that I’m certain are actually good probabilities that I get pissed off on, however general I don’t take a look at simply what number of pictures I've and what number of targets.”
Washington hasn’t gotten a lot aim scoring from its blue line this season; earlier than Carlson’s additional time winner, Christian Djoos had two targets and Taylor Chorney had one. With zero.21 factors per sport, Carlson’s manufacturing is on par with what it was through the 2014-15 season, a profession 12 months that garnered him some Norris Trophy votes as one of many league’s high defensemen.
He averaged roughly 23 minutes per sport that 12 months, and the Capitals are asking him to be that form of participant once more, and extra.
“That’s a part of John’s development, with the ability to deal with these minutes once you’re just a little bit drained,” Trotz mentioned. “How do you handle the warmth that’s on you? I believe he’s doing a greater job each sport.”