SAN JOSE – Injured defenseman John Carlson joined the Washington Capitals on their California road trip, but Coach Barry Trotz said Carlson’s timeline hasn’t changed. He had an undisclosed lower-body “procedure” on Feb. 27 and was expected to be out three to four weeks.
The Capitals placed Carlson on long-term injured reserve, meaning he’d have to miss a minimum of 10 games and 24 days, so the earliest he could play is against the Ottawa Senators on March 22. Trotz said Carlson could begin skating again next week.
“There’s no one really injured other than him, and I thought it was a good trip for him to get a lot of attention with [strength and conditioning coach] Mark Nemish,” Trotz said on Friday. “He could use Nemo on our off days here. He’s just continuing to do what he’s doing in terms of off-ice stuff. No on-ice yet; we’ll see where we are next week and that might be a possibility next week.”
The team’s top defenseman entering the season, Carlson missed 12 games earlier after suffering a lower-body injury on Dec. 26. He was back in the lineup in the last game before the all-star break, and Trotz admitted that Carlson wasn’t the same player since he returned. With the injury not healing as expected, the Capitals opted for the “procedure,” so Carlson would be 100 percent healthy entering the playoffs. Carlson has six goals and 25 assists this season.
“We’ll see what his status is,” Trotz said. “He looks good, he feels good; I’ve talked to him. He’s on a real good timeline here.”
Washington acquired defenseman Mike Weber from the Buffalo Sabres before the trade deadline to bolster its blue-line depth, so even with Carlson out, the team has seven healthy defensemen. While the top two pairs are set (Karl Alzner with Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik with Dmitry Orlov), Trotz has been rotating defensemen on the third pair.
He said he’s made the decision of who’s in on the third pairing based on the opponent and also trying to get Weber, Nate Schmidt and Taylor Chorney two games at a time before shuffling them.
“They’ve all played pretty well, and it makes the decision pretty hard,” Trotz said. “We try to look at opponents and then try to give them at least two games.”
With a win in San Jose, Washington would have 105 points and officially clinch a playoff spot. Here’s the Capitals’ expected lineup against the Sharks on Saturday night:
Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Jason Chimera-Marcus Johansson-Tom Wilson
Daniel Winnik-Mike Richards-Jay Beagle
Karl Alzner-Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik-Dmitry Orlov
Mike Weber-Nate Schmidt
Philipp Grubauer (starter)
John Carlson (lower-body)