If John Carlson’s fist pump after his second-period goal Saturday night against Florida looked a little more enthusiastic than usual, well, that’s because it was.
“You could tell by his celebration how much it meant to him,” Coach Adam Oates said.
And how much it could mean to the team. Carlson’s goal, the second for Washington in what became a 3-2 shootout win over the Panthers at Verizon Center, was his first of the season.
Carlson joins veteran Mike Green as one of the Capitals’ skilled defensemen, players expected to be weapons on offense. Yet 14 games into the season, Carlson’s tally against Florida is the only goal between the pair. Indeed, on the current roster, it’s the only goal for a defenseman. (Connor Carrick, who scored once with the big club, was reassigned to Hershey last month.)
Green had an assist Saturday night on Nicklas Backstrom’s goal, his fourth straight game with a point, and he has nine assists on the year. But for a player who has three times scored at least 18 goals in a season – and last year had 12 goals in just 35 games, a 28-goal pace over a full year – more is expected, particularly because Washington is accustomed to Green being such an important part of the power play.
In fact, Oates believes the defensemen all need to chip into the offense, which – at 2.93 goals per game – ranks 13th in the league, virtually the definition of middling.
“We need good decisions with the puck,” Oates said. “Carly, Greenie — Greenie still hasn’t got one yet. Obviously he makes a lot of good plays. The shots will come, the chances will come. But we need goals from our ‘D’. Every team does.”
Carlson’s goal served as the 100th point of his career. Coming into the season, he had averaged .41 points per game. With three points in his first 14 games of this season, that production is cut in half.
That, though, could turn around with that one goal.
“They do something for everybody,” Oates said. “Nobody likes to go too long without one. Once you get one you feel that much better.”
For a time, Carlson’s goal could’ve been the game-winner – until Florida scored on the power play with less than three minutes remaining in regulation.
“It’d be nice to go out there in the third period and lock it down a little bit better,” Carlson said.
Just as it would be nice to get some more offense from the D.
>> Here’s a look at Saturday’s game, which featured what has become a rarity: a power-play goal against the Capitals.
>> Dmitry Orlov was reassigned to Hershey this morning. The 22-year-old defenseman was recalled Wednesday but was scratched both Friday and Saturday.
>> The team has today off, and will return to practice on Monday, when Alex Ovechkin — who has missed the past two games with a shoulder injury — may practice. If Ovechkin practices, he’s likely in line to play Tuesday night against the New York Islanders.