Defenseman John Carlson skated for the first time since a “procedure” for his undisclosed lower-body injury, briefly getting on the ice after the Capitals’ practice on Monday. The team announced that he would be out three to four weeks after the Feb. 27 procedure, and with him on long-term injured reserve, the earliest he could play is on March 20.

“I didn’t really do much to say one way or another, just part of the process,” Carlson said of his skate. “We’ll just keep going.”

The team’s top defenseman entering the season, Carlson missed 12 games earlier this season because of a lower-body injury he suffered on Dec. 26. He was back in the lineup in the last game before the all-star break, and Capitals Coach Barry Trotz admitted that Carlson wasn’t the same player when he returned. The injury didn’t heal as expected, so the team opted for the undisclosed procedure, shutting him down again.

“That was kind of the series of events,” Carlson said. “Not what I was looking forward to, but it would be good in the long run. Glad I could get it out of the way and hopefully get back as soon as possible to play in some games and get ready for the postseason.”

Carlson has six goals and 25 assists this season, and he and Trotz both acknowledged that he wasn’t 100 percent when he played before the all-star break. Trotz has previously said that the intention is for Carlson to play before the postseason, but neither Carlson nor Trotz want to rush it this time.

“It’s tough to explain,” Carlson said. “A lot of things happened that I can’t really talk about. It’s just one of those things that nobody thought it wasn’t going to get better and it just didn’t, so that’s the end of it.​”

Said Trotz: “He will not come back at 99 percent. … When you get to a point as a hockey player, a lot of times you’re going, ‘I’m 90 percent; I’m good to go.’ If you’re 100 percent and you’re 65 games into the season, then you haven’t played too friggin’ hard, I’ll tell you that. That’s what it is, so when a guy is in that range and he says he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go. But this one, we’ll go to 100.”