John McDonnell/The Washington Post
After acknowledging that defenseman John Carlson didn't have his strongest game against the Islanders last night, Coach Bruce Boudreau spoke more about the developing 20-year-old after Thursday's skate. For all that's expected of him, it's often easy to forget that he's still a rookie assimilating to the NHL.
Boudreau described Carlson's main transgressions as "sleepy." Plays where he didn't do what he was supposed to do, or wasn't quick enough to react to an advancing member of the opposition.
"The first goal [by New York's Nino Niederreiter], he wasn't ready, he wasn't fast enough in front of the net there, and the guy beat him wide last game because he made his pivot too late," Boudreau said. "Don't get me wrong, he does a lot of great things and a logs a lot of minutes. But he's a young guy and we don't want him to think he's Ray Bourque yet."
Against the Islanders Carlson was too late to challenge Niederreiter, and on Monday against the Senators he overplayed the puck a bit, leaving too much room for Ryan Shannon to make a play. But despite the early miscues, there's little doubt in Boudreau's mind that Carlson will eventually achieve the success that he's already experienced as a junior player and in the American Hockey League. It'll just take some time.
Even with the mistakes, Carlson is still the top-scoring defenseman in the league with five points (1G, 4A).
"He has moments of greatness, but he's not there," Boudreau said. "We just want to make sure that he gets better and he doesn't think he's right there. We showed him clips of all his mistakes this morning and he's going to get better, but it's a process."
-- I'm working on something for tomorrow's paper on the Capitals' success (or lack thereof) in the faceoff circle through four games and how it has contributed to those stretches of opponents dominating puck possession. So keep an eye out for that.