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Alzner Unlikely to Join Caps for Playoffs

Barring an injury, it doesn't appear that defenseman Karl Alzner will be returning to Washington for the start of the playoffs, according to Coach Bruce Boudreau.

"With seven [defensemen] here, I don't think it would be prudent to take [the Bears] and decimate them like that," Boudreau said. "I would rather have Karl playing right now that him coming up and sitting."

When Alzner was assigned to Hershey on Feb. 17 after appearing in 30 of the Caps' previous 36 games (and looking quite good in a number of them), the assumption around here was that the former first-round pick would rejoin Washington in the postseason, when the salary cap no longer applies. But it seems like the surprising return of veteran Brian Pothier from a 14-month layoff with a concussion has bumped Alzner out of the playoff picture (for now, at least.)

When I asked Boudreau if he felt Alzner could displace one of the seven defensemen on the roster, he said: "I don't know, but I don't think so at this stage. But anything can change."

In 45 games with the Bears this season, Alzner has four goals, 15 assists and is among the leaders in plus/minus with a plus 25. His 10 penalty minutes, by the way, are by far the lowest on the team.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 7, 2009; 11:56 AM ET
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1) If not for the salary cap Alzner would not only be on the big club, but you can bet would be getting top 4 defensemen minutes.
2) Its too bad the team seems determined to 'bolster Hershey' and not the Caps going into the post season. There is no doubt he's better than Jurcina and Erskine.

Posted by: fauxrumors | April 7, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Apparently BB does have that doubt.

Posted by: hock1 | April 7, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Ehhh, I'm not so sure. I know that he went down when he did because it was getting on 40 games or something so as not to qualify for a full year on his contract, but he was struggling mightily, too.

I think it's probably better for him to have the rest of the year and playoffs down in Hershey. Look what it did for Green, Laich, Schultz, and Gordon. It can only improve him as a player.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | April 7, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Alzner is better than Morrisson, Jurcina, and Schultz...all of whom have struggled this season. It seems that in every game one of those three traffic cones directs, deflects, or intentionally puts a puck in their own net. I thought Sloan was good during his call up, I thought Helmer showed a lot of veteran grit, and young Collins was fantastic...between Alzner, and those three we should be able to do without MORONisson, Lt. Schutlzie, or Lurch-ina. God help the Caps in the playoffs.

Posted by: netminder71 | April 7, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Good to know Alzner is there in case of injury. I guess you ride the horse that got you there. Any word on Schultzs injury, Tarik? Didn't he get stitched up at the end of Sundays game? Where and why?

Posted by: oo7 | April 7, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

1) Drinking: Iif they sent down every player who 'struggled' at times, the whole defense corps ouseide of Green would have seen time there.
2) Alzner outplayed his teammates, despite being paired with Jurcina(who miraculously started playing better when Karl was placed with him)
3) He was out there during critical moments(PK/end of games) He wasn't a rookie playing 7-8 mins/night. He played the most of any defensemen because he was steady and reliable.
4) If not for the salary cap, he would have stayed and been the teamm's most reliable defensive defensemen. Pair him with Green or Poti and we'll see how much he 'struggles'. He would make the team better, now!

Posted by: fauxrumors | April 7, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Maybe this has something to do with it...

Ouch, what is it with the spleens in the organization?

Posted by: StikSav | April 7, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with faux, Alzner improved Juices game. He did struggle though. No more than anyone else, just more noticable as goals started going in while he was on ice. I saw him scramble and spin a bit. Still, this years pecking order is established. Pothoer sunk Karl, but all our D have post season experience now. we know how important that is. Either way, Karl is a cap next year, not a bear.

Hey faux, I agree with almost all your retirees. I don't see weight returning to the island.

Posted by: oo7 | April 7, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

We'll, it sounds like Poti is hurt again. Ugh.

Posted by: FancyDan | April 7, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

FYI - here's an interesting article about Olie Kolzig:

Posted by: DevilsCapsGal | April 7, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

why all the jurcina bashing? imo he is better than erskine and schultz

Posted by: HockeyTy | April 7, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Alzner got sent down because he was struggling and because they could. No one else on that blue line CAN be sent down, w/o risk of loss.

And when he got sent down, he'd had some 4 or 5 poor games in a row. He looked tired, and he was playing a fair bit at a faster pace, which isn't what he was used to.

I'm not saying he isn't better, I'm saying I'd rather him gain AHL playoff experience first. If Pothier wasn't back, though, you can be damn sure that I'd be calling for Alzner back on a golden steed.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | April 7, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I feel for Alzner...he's done just about everything they've asked of him. His low PIM count (despite being no shrinking violet) speaks volumes about his skill and discipline (something Washington, at times, has lacked esp. in the 3rd period of games).

+25 w/ only 10 PIM in 45 games? That's a pretty solid body of work.

But, this is why Boudreau is the coach, I suppose.

Posted by: jcurrin | April 7, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Gotta agree with HockeyTy. Jurcina is better than Schultz and Erskine, yet I've seen him make some mistakes recently as well. But than again all of the caps defense have been making mistakes lately. I don't agree with Alzner not being called up for playoffs though. He is better than Schultz and Erskine in my opinion. He does get knocked around quite a bit, but he's still faster than Schultz and Erskine. I'd much rather have him in the top d than Schultz or Erskine.

Posted by: Thomas32 | April 7, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Schultz is fine. He got a skate blade to the thigh/knee area during the last PK of the game. He needed about 12 stitches or so.


Posted by: el_bashir | April 7, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

What we often don't take into account is:
1. The bears coaching staff reports on the players every day.
2. BB sees HIS players everyday.

At the end of the day, BB has more info on the subject than any of us ever will. Cut him some slack. It would appear that so far that he knows what he's doing.

Posted by: jdhoover | April 7, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Unless Mo does something amazing in the playoffs and gets the Conn Smythe Award, my thought is Alzner will be taking his spot next year.

Be happy we have depth throughout the entire organization. Hershey's run will do him good this year, no one expects him to be there next year.

Patience is a virtue, and rebuilding isn't done in a year as much as everyone here thinks it should be.

As an example Detroit takes years to develop their players before bringing them up and how many 50 win seasons do they have in the past decade?

Let's go Caps, Bears & Stingrays!

Posted by: caps28fan | April 7, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

jdhoover - Very well put. Not many visitors of this site seem to take into consideration that fact.

Posted by: gonchpup | April 7, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

re Jurcina - I think he takes too much flak from people sometimes, but he also takes a ton of penalties.

re Alner - He was good at first in his call up, but he really struggled later on and wound up with some pretty bad plus minus and giveaways numbers. To me, he didn't look like he was quite ready. I expect him in Washington next season playing a regular role though.

Posted by: capsbluelinedotcom | April 7, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Clearly Alzner's a +25 because he plays with Ovechkin.

Posted by: Section117 | April 7, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

"In 45 games with the Bears this season, Alzner has four goals, 15 assists and is among the leaders in plus/minus with a plus 25. His 10 penalty minutes, by the way, are by far the lowest on the team."

Right here is the problem with Alzner: No hits, no goals, no guts, and only 15 assists. Everybody - almost - is on the plus side of the plus/minus by a considerable margin!

Posted by: johnbear1 | April 7, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

whoever thinks alzner is better than jurcina or erskine,can i have some of that stuff your smokin?yall crazy!

Posted by: gratefuldid | April 7, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Alzner may or may not be ready for an NHL post-season, he is definitely ready for an AHL post-season, and learning how to play postseason hockey is a good thing.

Besides, you know if Hershey makes an early exit in the Calder Cup playoffs, Alzner will be up here with the big club.

Posted by: MikeL-Caps91 | April 7, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to call BS on BB. One way or another Alzner gets a sweater this postseason.

Posted by: theskinnypost | April 7, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Alzner may or may not be ready for an NHL post-season, he is definitely ready for an AHL post-season, and learning how to play postseason hockey is a good thing.

Posted by: MikeL-Caps91 | April 7, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Alzner's international experience helps with the transition. Might as well give him the ice time down there.

Posted by: Section117 | April 7, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it great though that the Caps control their own destiny if they really want second place in the conference. GO CAPS!

Posted by: pacapsfan | April 7, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

the trouble with depending upon Pothier and potentially Chris Clark in the postseason is that neither player is conditioned and really near the top of their respective games.

I keep going back to the coverage of the defensemen inside the blue line and their inability to carry the puck out of the zone.

Pothier, Poti and Green are supposed to be solid puckhandlers and skaters and yet the team can't seem to exit its own zone even against lesser teams like Atlanta and the Islanders.

Alzner to me is another set of younger legs, a smooth skater that rarely fails to carry the puck out of the zone or make the correct exit pass.

That is something this team needs desperately.

Unless Pothier, Poti (who has been beaten a few times in recent games) and Green tighten up defensively and cut down on the turnovers, the Caps are going to get bounced from the playoffs.

Posted by: leopard09 | April 7, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

someone injure schultz, quick!!

Posted by: nwilson2 | April 7, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that's classy.

Posted by: Section117 | April 7, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Personally I was hoping to see Alzner back up for the playoffs. Schultz, whom I defended before, is starting to cause me an ulcer. Erskine is tough as nails, but as mobile as a comatose turtle. Also, while I appreciate the great comeback story of Pothier he hasn't impressed me yet.

Lastly, poor Lepisto. He had views on being in Washington this year. Had a couple of relatively poor games while he was up which resulted in him being written completely out of the picture and now suffers a lacerated spleen down in Hershey to put a capper on this season. I still like him a lot.

Speaking of guys who won't see the time of day up in Washington now... Collins. The kid came up and played fantastic IMO only to be sent back when the injuries subsided. Now he's like defensive call-up # 6.

Posted by: ranndino | April 7, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

As Capitals fans we are so jaded...we believe that this current incarnation of the Caps could implode at any moment. We believe the Capitals will be knocked out of the playoffs in the first round and might not even make it back next season. We are Capitals fans, this is who we are. So naturally we want them to throw everything they can at a Cup run this season. sees things entirely differently, and I think we should be grateful for that.

Privately, the Capitals' brass knows this is not our year. They'd like to go as far as possible to get their young stars as seasoned as possible, but they know that the team is a year or two away from being truly dominate.

It might be that Alzner is better than Jurcinia or Shultz or Erskine...but those guys aren't 10 year vets. Some of those guys will be playing next year on this team and it's important that they get playoff experience as well.

Keeping Alzner in Hershey is exactly the kind of move a loaded team can and should make. Let him be a leader in Hershey. Let him grow and mature naturally instead of throwing him into the fire of the NHL playoffs in a season that is about taking it to the next level, not necessarily taking it all the way.

Posted by: benz9 | April 7, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Well said jdhoover

Posted by: C-A-P-Scapscapscaps | April 8, 2009 5:49 AM | Report abuse


Why would you wish injury on your own player? We don't need that here.

Posted by: C-A-P-Scapscapscaps | April 8, 2009 5:51 AM | Report abuse

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