John Carlson didn’t take part in the Capitals’ optional practice Saturday at KCI but Coach Bruce Boudreau said he believes the rookie defenseman will be available for Game 2 against the Lightning on Sunday.
Carlson was unable to play for all but 36 seconds of the final 25 minutes in Game 1 Friday following a collision with Tampa Bay’s Nate Thompson. He is formally listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, according to the team. When Carlson walked through the hallway at KCI Saturday morning he looked stiff but didn’t have an obvious limp according to colleague Tarik El-Bashir.
“I think there’s a pretty good chance he’ll play tomorrow,” Boudreau said of Carlson. “I’m not 100 percent sure.”
Carlson initially left the ice late in the second period, his final full shift concluding with 5 minutes and 23 seconds left in the frame but he would return to the bench at the start of the third. The 21-year-old took only two brief shifts — 20 and 16 seconds — the rest of the night but skated in circles during television timeouts.
Unlike Game 5 against the Rangers, though, when Boudreau said the Capitals could have used Mike Green if they needed him after he was hit in the head by a Matt Gilroy slapshot, Carlson was not available to the coaching staff as the game continued.
“Yesterday he was sore,” Boudreau said. “Because if we could have used him we would have used him.”
While Carlson’s absence takes one of Washington’s more offensively inclined blueliners out of the mix, it also puts more pressure on players like Green to play even more significant minutes. Green played a team-high 27:05 in Game 1 against Tampa Bay, the most ice time he’s seen in any non-overtime game this postseason.
“When you look at Mike Green’s minutes being 27 minutes,” Boudreau said, “It’s too high.”
Green agreed with that sentiment. “I felt the same way. To be effective, especially in the playoffs, you’ve got to keep your shifts short and be fresh. I felt like I was out there a little too much and that I wasn’t able to be as porductive as I felt I could have been.”