Defenseman John Carlson was a late scratch against the Minnesota Wild on Friday night, ruled out during warmups with a lower-body injury. After the game, Washington Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said Carlson’s injury is the same one that forced him to miss 12 games before the all-star break.
“It’s lingering on the old one,” Trotz said. “He probably saw the doctors tonight. We’ll probably have an update for you [on Saturday] because I don’t really know yet.”
Carlson missing the game was somewhat surprising, as he fully participated in morning skate on Friday, taking rushes with Nate Schmidt like normal. Taylor Chorney, the team’s seventh defenseman, didn’t stay on the ice late like he would if he was a healthy scratch, and when Trotz was asked if Chorney was going to play, he said it was possible. Trotz wouldn’t say who Chorney was potentially tabbed to play for.
Carlson has struggled since he returned to the lineup on Jan. 27, the last game before the all-star break, and when recently asked about his play since his unspecified injury, Trotz said it was still affecting him. The injury ended a 412-game streak for Carlson. The 26-year-old has six goals and 25 assists this season.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Carly because he was trying to get back so quickly after that,” Trotz said last week. “You can tell it was affecting his play. Even when he came back, he didn’t have the same pop. I respect him for coming back as quickly as he did to try to help a defensive corps that was pretty banged up, him included. That’s probably the thing you respect the most.
“I think it’s been a little bit of an adjustment period because what happens when you get an injury like his, even your posture and how you skate is a little different. He seems to be a little straight-legged a little bit more at times. It’s starting to come back now, as you get deeper and further away from your injury. It does affect your gait, in terms of how you skate, which affects your passing skills, which affects everything. Everything just gets off. It’s like having a rib out. You know, you just don’t have the same gait or you don’t move as fluidly. He’s starting to come.”
In an interview with a handful of reporters on Thursday, General Manager Brian MacLellan said the Capitals wouldn’t be resting players down the stretch, despite the sizable lead they have on the rest of the league. But MacLellan said Washington might utilize its depth if players are banged up.
“I think it’s dangerous to start taking time off for everybody, but if there’s minor injuries that normally guys would play with, I think that would change, especially when we’re adding depth guys,” MacLellan said. “I mean, we’re going to have eight defensemen; if there’s situations where he’s not 100 percent, well, you know, let’s use our depth here. I mean, that’s part of the idea of having eight defensemen down the stretch.
“We have a tough schedule where we’re playing a lot of guys in the number of days. Well, more bodies and the less stress you can put on your top four guys, the better. I mean, it would be more like that than we’re going to completely sit out for two days, because I think guys need a rhythm. They need to keep playing.”
Said Trotz on Friday night: “He’s not 100 percent, or he would have played tonight. It is a little bit of the lingering of the old injury, so we have the opportunity, let’s get it settled down or fixed or whatever we need to do. Let’s just do it so that it’s not lingering and lingering on.”