Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson has 'picked up where he left off'

By Katie Carrera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 23, 2010; 10:14 PM

Although the Washington Capitals' 6-2, preseason-opening victory over the host Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night was not a display of defensive fortitude, the performance of one of the team's rising young blue liners particularly pleased Coach Bruce Boudreau.

John Carlson saw more than 21 minutes of ice time, blocked two shots, made minimal errors in his own zone - which he was able to correct himself - and furthered Boudreau's belief that he is prepared to be a key cog in the Capitals' defense.

"He's picked up where he left off," Boudreau said. "Carlson's going to be a fairly good offensive player, too, and I say that because I find myself telling him the exact stuff I told to Mike Green. Their playing [style is] very similar as far as an offensive player goes."

Carlson's ability to step in on the point on the power play should take pressure off Green, Boudreau said, when the two-time Norris Trophy finalist can't play the entire length of a man-advantage.

Earlier during training camp, Carlson said he hoped the Capitals would eventually rely on him the way his previous teams - the minor league affiliate Hershey Bears, the United States' world junior squad and the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights - have. It might not take long for Carlson to get his wish, even if he is still working out a few kinks.

"I felt pretty good" against the Blue Jackets, Carlson said. "I didn't exactly know what to expect because it's the first real game situation in a while and I felt rusty at some points, but overall I thought I played good. At one point I stepped up and poke checked a guy. It hit into his pads, but it was good to recover from that. As time goes on, it will all get easier."

Sparring partners

After practice Thursday morning, Capitals heavyweight D.J. King and prospect Dustin Stevenson rehearsed some fighting moves after the other players left the ice.

No real punches were thrown. The players simply mimicked arm movements in a mock fracas because, well, they don't get to work on things like that much during a regular skate.

"It's hard to practice anything like that," said King (6 feet 3, 230 pounds) who didn't hesitate to show Stevenson (6-5, 220), a fellow Saskatchewan native, how things are done. "He wanted to get a little sense of what it was like. He's a big boy, so I just showed him a few things, but also for myself, it's nice to do that - just moving the arms like we did and get a little work in."

Seven cuts are made

The team reassigned seven players to Hershey on Thursday. They were forwards Trevor Bruess, Boyd Kane and Joel Rechlicz and defensemen Josh Godfrey, Johann Kroll, Stevenson and Dylan Yeo. Washington can only carry 23 players when the season opens on Oct. 8.

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