John Carlson knows he doesn’t control things like how much time he sees on the power play any given night, but that doesn’t mean the 21-year-old doesn’t want to be out there.
As a rookie during the 2010-11 campaign, Carlson averaged 2 minutes and 12 seconds on the man advantage over the course of the season. He was a regular part of the unit from the start of last season, but considering the depth the Capitals have this year both with offensive-minded defensemen and among forwards, the young blueliner has seen his time dip to an average of 52 seconds on the man advantage per night.
Coach Bruce Boudreau has liked to have a fresh pairing of Karl Alzner and Carlson to throw out against an opponent’s top line immediately after a power play wraps up as well. But with Mike Green unable to play against Edmonton because of a twisted right ankle, Carlson will likely see his time on the power play increase.
“It’s tough,” Carlson said of the decreased power-play time. “I’m young and these guys are great players, but being on the power play is something that I want to do regardless of any other circumstances. But I don’t make those decisions. I get told what to do and I go out there and I do my best at it, whatever it is. So that’s what I’ve been doing and that’s what I’ll do now. I’ve got maybe a little opportunity to prove myself a bit more offensively tonight and I’ve got to make the most of it.”
Carlson recorded seven goals and 37 points during his rookie year and through seven games this season he has two points, both primary assists. Boudreau said he can sense Carlson’s eagerness to contribute more on the scoresheet.
“I know he likes to put up some offensive numbers and he hasn’t had that opportunity,” Boudreau said. “I think he relishes the defensive role as well, but I know he likes to go. When it’s 5-on-5, when he gets the opportunity to go, he goes. So I think he relishes it, yeah.”
Where increased power-play time for Carlson becomes interesting is the ripple effect it has on Washington’s even-strength play. It will inevitably be a rested pairing that is called for duty at the end of a power play, and whether that’s the grouping of Jeff Schultz and Sean Collins, neither of whom will see power-play time, or a combination of Alzner and one of them is a possibility also.
Granted, depending on how power-play time is allocated, it’s possible Alzner and Carlson or Hamrlik and Wideman could be ready to go when the advantage concludes as well.
“I think we’ll still be able to roll through things pretty well,” Alzner said. “If I’m out there with someone else for a shift or if I don’t get put out there immediately after a power play ends, I don’t think it will change too much for the group. And it doesn’t matter too much for me.”