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John Carlson wants the Capitals to rely on him

Morning Roundup

One of the big questions in last year's training camp was whether John Carlson would be ready for the NHL immediately. He wasn't at that precise moment, but after a 2009-10 season that saw him star for the Hershey Bears, become a hero for the United States' World Junior Championship team and perform well in 22 games there's little question that Carlson's place is in Washington.

The challenge for the defensive wunderkind is to keep up the steady progress in his development that's helped make him ready for the NHL at the ripe old age of 20.

"I've been itching all summer to get back to camp to do things that we didn't accomplish last year," Carlson said. "I have a goal this year and right now it's to make the team out of camp. I've been waiting for it all summer and now it's right here in front of me."

After the Capitals called him up for several stints throughout the regular season it was toward the end of the year, and particularly in the playoffs, when Carlson believed he was playing his best hockey. "I was in the lineup every night, I got comfortable here," he said. "My comfort level has gone up every time I've been here and that makes a difference."

During the first practice of official training camp Saturday, Carlson weathered Coach Bruce Boudreau's first grueling skate well and barely appeared winded at the end of the bag skate. It's was good first day for someone who's expected to eventually log significant ice time and will likely serve as another offensive threat on the blueline in addition to two-time Norris Trophy candidate Mike Green. He was already averaging 18.1 minutes per game with the Capitals last year.

"Looking back every team that I've played on now I've played a big role and I hope to have those kinds of minutes. That's my goal here," Carlson said. "Will it be over 20 right off the bat? Maybe not, but maybe it will be too. I'm obviously working toward that goal of knowing that every game I will be relied upon."

- Group A hit the ice at KCI about 15 minutes ago and Groups B and C are scheduled to scrimmage at Noon. Zach Miskovic, who has been recovering from a knee injury he suffered in development camp and skating on his own, is on the ice with Group A and taking part in practice.

Update: Miskovic was on the ice for the first part of the session but didn't stay out for the duration. He was working off the ice though.

FROM THE POST
A look at the competition between numerous centers for a place in the pecking order behind Nicklas Backstrom.

AROUND THE WEB
Corey Masisak also handicaps the battle to become the team's third-line center.

A professional try-out with the Capitals reunites Matt Hendricks, who could be in the mix for one of the center spots in the organization, and Coach Bruce Boudreau.

By Katie Carrera  | September 19, 2010; 10:06 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Roundup  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: George McPhee: 'I can't allow five days to get in the way of what we think is a terrific team'
Next: Early chemistry for 'Team C'

Comments

Terrific article, one slight quibble though - yes he was sent down last year, but that doesn't mean he wasn't better than some of the guys who made the team. This became even more abundantly clear during the playoffs, when Carlson and Poti were hands-down the Caps best defensive pairing, and were consistently out against the Habs' best line as the series progressed.

Posted by: govtimbo | September 19, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Definitely looking forward to see what this guy's capable of. America.

Posted by: primeau121 | September 19, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

hey Tom in socal...I think Mike Ridley an Mark Tinordi would be the perfect additions to the Caps. However, I did not see their names on the free agent lists nor did I hear of any teams trading them. Did you see any mention of them this summer? So that being said were there any players that would be acceptable replacements? At a decent salary? Without a NMC? IMO the answer was no. You also heard GMGM say on June 30 that the Caps were not going to be players in free agency. So, I guess I am saying, Why are you surprised at his lack of activity? @joek. Before you spout off about the Caps record being inflated because they are in the SE you should check the records. Caps had a better record against the Atl and NE than they had against the SE. If you are going to spout off, at least be correct.

Posted by: nimrodrsp | September 19, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

@ nimrodrsp

ummm do they play the teams outside their division 6 times/year??

that's 24 easy games outta 82 that no other elite teams can count on in their schedule... it's YOU that needs to get the facts straight.

Posted by: joek443 | September 19, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

No jerk, it is you. Atl and Ne play the SE four times each. Caps had a better record against the Atl and Ne than those teams had against the Se. Look it up.

Posted by: nimrodrsp | September 19, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

it's just laughable how anyone can argue against the fact that the Caps have had the easiest road to make the playoffs among all the elite teams in the league.

You win the division and you make the playoffs. and this is the division that sent only ONE lousy team to the playoffs last year!!!

Posted by: joek443 | September 19, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

hey MORON, so how did the Caps do in the playoffs last year against that team up north??

Posted by: joek443 | September 19, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

nimrod: First, let me say on the last thread that JIMALLCAPS wrote an excellent post that sums up about what I think too.

OK, we could have gotten the center, maybe - Saku Koivu. He is easily worth the $2.5M. Lombardi is also worth the $3.5M but he doesn't give quite the veteran presence. Either of these players would have been easily affordable by moving Flash and promoting a $500K Hershey forward. Also, John Madden at $1M could have given us 12-15 minutes a night at 3rd line center. We either need a veteran #2C or a veteran #3. One or the other. You can't go Backstrom, two rookies and Steckel. There's a very slim chance Flash might work out at center but a better chance that Lindsay Lohan will never again get arrested.

As for defense, Volchenkov. Could we have gotten him w/o a NMC? I don't know. Did we try? I don't know. After reviewing his worth prior to July 1, I had him pegged 5 yrs and $4.75M/yr. He actually went 6 yrs/$4.25M yr so about same money but one extra year and the NMC. That contract would have been a gamble. All contracts are gambles. Only time will tell. I believe he would have come here. I recall before one late season game in Ottawa our Russians and Volchenkov were chatting it up at center ice before the game.

If not him, there are other adequate d-man. Maybe cstanton1 will come around and fill you in. He knows the other players around the league better than I. I go to sleep 9:30-10 most nights and would usually only watch Caps. Now living in CA I will be able to watch more late games. I will probably concentrate on and even root for the Kings as my second team, I like their make-up.

Sunday morning. The Kool-Aid drinkers are getting their communion from George and the Negative Nancys are most likely slaughtering a goat somewhere and draining the blood into the Stanley Cup. Only one hour till football at ten in the morning.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 19, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

And the last time I checked they're 13-15 and have won 1 series outta 4 that they've played against the teams OUTSIDE their division (Atl & NE) in the last 3 years in the playoffs.

So tell me again about their splendid records against the teams in the Atlantic and NE divisions.

Posted by: joek443 | September 19, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

joe: You are 100% wrong on this. The Caps got like 42 pts out of 48 available in 24 SE games. Meanwhile they had 121 pts total in 82 games. This means they got 79 pts in the other 58 games. Divide 79 by 58 and multiply by 82. The Caps would have gotten 112 pts in 82 games playing all 82 vs every team BUT the SE.

The Caps still would have gotten the President's Trophy even if you had replaced the 24 games vs SE teams with 24 vs Pens, Flyers, Nashville, St. Louis, whichever.

Do the math, joe. You make some good points sometimes but your math skills and your English literature (Hemingway) are way off the mark. I give you two As, a C and two Fs for your report card.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 19, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

@joek and nimrod,

Don't mean to be a jerk, but you both seem to have problems with math.

For nim: Caps had a .792 winning % against the SE, .625 against the combined NE and Atlantic.

Enlighten me as to how the latter is a better record? You mean, total wins?

And joek: if you accept Nim saying the Caps were better against the NE/Atl - which ya did - then the "easy" games were outside the SE, and the Caps would do even better in another division (which was nim's point, maybe).

Can we all agree that the Caps "inflated" pts total (like they could petition the league to play more games against NJ) had nothing to do with losing to MTL and that the SE is gonna be improved this year?

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | September 19, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I actually did it wrong. Caps I think were 20-1-3 for 41 pts in division and 80 pts outside. So that would've been 113 pts against a full schedule of non-SE teams.

Joe, have you slaughtered the goat yet or are you waiting for dark?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 19, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

@Tom. Not argueing with you basically,I am agreeing with you. btw, football at 10 in the morning is kinda hard to get used to. It just messes up the whole Sunday thing. I don't think Flash will work out at center. At least in camp he will have more time to work at it. Lombardi may have worked but I think (?) that cstanton had him at a 3c. Time will tell about everything more or less.

Posted by: nimrodrsp | September 19, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Bottom line: Take Caps from SE and move to NE. Eight total games from SE (two each) become 2 more each with the four NE teams. Caps averaged about 13 pts every eight games vs SE and 11 pts every eight games vs everone else.

So, if that were the case, 121 pts would have been 119. Hardly a difference.

Just do the math.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 19, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

19-3-2 for 40, I think, tom.

Unless nhl.com has completely gooned up their standings page, though those numbers sound right from memory.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | September 19, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

@stevie...My point was that the Caps had a better record against the Atl and Ne than the Atl or Ne had against the Se.

Posted by: nimrodrsp | September 19, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Gotcha, nim.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | September 19, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

So are you all saying Pitt, Philly, NJ, Boston or any other teams in the NE and Atlantic would much rather remain in their current division if they had a choice to jump ship and come to the "fierce" competition of the good ole SE division???

LMAO I'm sure they would refuse a sure playoff birth and not come to this sorry division.

Posted by: joek443 | September 19, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

heck why don't we suggest Ted call Ed Snyder and Bettman to work this out since Philly is the closest team geographically??

We swap with Philly, they come to SE and we go to Atlantic... I wonder which owner would be for it and which would be against it.

Posted by: joek443 | September 19, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

joek, you are truly an idiot.

Posted by: nimrodrsp | September 19, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

With all the talk about the center position, I haven't seen much about Laich vs. Fehr as the second line power forward. A lot of people hope that Fehr will step up this year and justify a move to the second line and then the first line next year if Knuble is gone. It looks like, at least for now, Laich has the second line slot. This issue is much less urgent than the center issue, IMO, since I see both players as being fully capable on the second or third line.

Posted by: zmega | September 19, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

If I had a top D line with the game in its final minutes, it would include Carlson. He was the best d-man on the team in the 7 game Montreal series.

Posted by: laugh_riot | September 19, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Stevie: I'll do the math once more - Caps got 40 of 48 pts vs SE and 81 of 116 pts vs rest of league. Takeaway the games vs SE and make Caps play all 82 agaist the other 25 teams. 81/116 x 164 = 115 pts. Caps still get Prez Trophy even if they never play another SE team once.

Problem with joek443 is he can't see the forest for the trees. He can't seem to get it through his head that Caps play other SE teams 6 each and NE and ATL 4 each. Not much difference. Sure, other teams would like the guaranteed playoff spot, but it sure didn't make any difference last year. Habs and Flyers made the playoffs the last day and did fine.

Actually joek could construct a reasonable argument (if he could take time away from his goat slaughtering) if he would say that Caps benefitted not from SE so much but from Eastern Conf. Western Conf (anybody got cumulative wins/losses east vs west last year?) just seems so much stronger. Put Caps in the West and it would be a five team struggle SJ, Chi, Van, Det, Caps on best team.

joek, if you want to hire me, I'll make your arguments for you, they will be much stronger and you will make much more sense.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 19, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

@Tom...I think the Caps were 9-5-4 against the west.

Posted by: nimrodrsp | September 19, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

One more thing about this, since the Orioles are on.

In hockey, you play 24 of 82 within division. 29%. MLB it's 76 of 162 for 47%.

Strength of divisional opponents is probably less important in hcokey than any sports.

I do pretty much agree with joek's assessment of the Caps. Lacking balance; lacking strong D; lacking grit; lacking veteran leadership.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 19, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

nim: Thx, but I was wondering which conf did better in total, all games/all teams. I'm thinking the West outplayed the East and is therefore the tougher conference.

I will say this: The Caps most likely have the easiest schedule in the league. First, they don't have to play themselves. Then, they play 24 vs SE, 20 each vs NE and Atlantic and only 18 against the tougher, Western Conference. If you add the pt total of all Caps opponents and divide by 82, probably lower (easier) average than any other team.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | September 19, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I think the glass is a bit more full. Get good,physical veterans for 2C and 1D, make the PK system more aggressive, and tell some of the forwards to get in close in front of the opponents goal or they sit out - I think we have a SC favorite then.

Posted by: zmega | September 19, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

@ Tom, Only a minor tweak or two from your analysis. I think 2nd line will pan out among Flash, MJ, and MP. If not, a trade can happen to make up for a defiency. I think 3rd line center is tougher for the Caps, unless MJ plays there -- but that seems a waste of his potential. He can play two-way center well. Maybe Laich, but I think he is much better suited to RW on the 3rd line, creating havoc in front of the net and working the boards in the cycle, depending where the puck is and who has control. I like Fehr on the 2nd line, opposite Sasha.

As for defense, I do not see any Cap working opposite Green. Either Alzner grows up quick and plays mean and smart (I doubt this) or the Caps have to shop for a 1st pairing tough guy who can play (Erskine is plenty tough, but his mobility and speed limit his effectiveness).

The PK needs a hardcore revamp in my opinion. Some of the stars have to play on it or it will stay mediocre. And mediocre won't cut it, come the playoffs.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | September 19, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

----------------------------------------
OK, we could have gotten the center, maybe - Saku Koivu. He is easily worth the $2.5M.

Koivu is not playing for money as much as for playing with Selanne and because he likes it in Anaheim. We'd probably have to overpay significantly for him, probably a multiyear deal or single year deal around 4 million/year. Same situation as Prospal. He's also slowed down quite considerably.

-----------------------------------------
Lombardi is also worth the $3.5M but he doesn't give quite the veteran presence.
------------------------------------------

Lombardi is the same thing as Belanger. Maybe 10 more points worth of offense per year. Watch Belanger put identical numbers to Lombardi's last year numbers this year in Phoenix. Just keeping Belanger for a year would have been much better.

------------------------------------------
Either of these players would have been easily affordable by moving Flash and promoting a
$500K Hershey forward.
------------------------------------------

We don't even need to move Flash. We have like 5 million worth of cap space already.

------------------------------------------
Also, John Madden at $1M could have given us 12-15 minutes a night at 3rd line center.
------------------------------------------

God no. Have you watched him at the end of last year? Washed up doesn't begin to describe him. Might as well coax Roenick out of retirement if that's what we're going for. Steckel and Gordon are both much better options right now. At least they can get from point A to point B.

-----------------------------------------
We either need a veteran #2C or a veteran #3. One or the other. You can't go Backstrom, two rookies and Steckel. There's a very slim chance Flash might work out at center but a better chance that Lindsay Lohan will never again get arrested.
----------------------------------------

Agreed. Chris Kelly would have been my ideal choice for #3 C. Probably the best bottom 6 PKer in the league and PPG in the playoffs against the Penguins last year while playing with Neil and Ruutu. A larger, more physical, 3rd line version of Blair Betts with slightly better hands. Would have been dynamite with Fehr and Chimera. I'm guessing Fleischmann and a low pick would have been enough to get him out of Ottawa, as they already have a logjam of similar centers there. If not him, then Arnott for #2 C. High bust potential, but only for 1 year and would be a steal if he worked out. At worst his coasting wouldn't hurt us on the 3rd line.

Getting Kelly and Weaver (as Alzner's partner, from FA) would have probably doubled our PK's effectiveness on its own.

Posted by: yellowtail99 | September 19, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Also, John Madden at $1M could have given us 12-15 minutes a night at 3rd line center.
------------------------------------------

God no. Have you watched him at the end of last year? Washed up doesn't begin to describe him. Might as well coax Roenick out of retirement if that's what we're going for. Steckel and Gordon are both much better options right now. At least they can get from point A to point B.

@yellowtail - how right you are, sometimes the best moves really are ones you don't make. Madden was pretty brutal in the playoffs, Q pulled him right quick if anybody on the top 2 lines was out there, I think in road games he was lucky to hit high single digits in TOI. Never the quickest guy, now he's lost a step and really gets exposed against good forwards, kind of a negative when you're a supposed checker and PK specialist.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | September 20, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

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