John Carlson: 2013-14 Season Review

Photo: Eric Hartline

The other half of Carlzner. This is the one with all the offense. And the flow. Let’s talk John Carlson.

By the Numbers

82 Games played
23.9 Average time on ice per game
10 Goals
27 Assists
46.9% Shot attempt percentage during 5v5
48.0% Goal percentage during 5v5
7.6% On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5
92.7% On-ice saving percentage during 5v5

Peter’s Take

First and foremost: John Carlson ate up oodles of ice time this season: over 2000 minutes, 300 more than the next guy, his buddy Karl. Adam Oates obviously trusted Carlson, which makes sense considering how rough Oates’ other options on the blue line were. As the more aggressive half of the Caps’ shutdown defensive pairing, Carlson saw his team outshot but only barely outscored during 5v5 (49 to 45), which I consider a successful campaign considering he faced the toughest competition on the team.

Carlson also appears to have usurped Mike Green’s role as power play quarterback (or, put another way, power play token D-man). JC74 got more PP time per game than Green and generated slightly more offense with it.

Overall, John Carlson has proved himself an indispensable player on a decent, long-term contract. One can’t entirely discount his steady possession decline, but if that trend proves to be systemic rather than individual, Carlson is gonna be electric in 2015.

Carly on RMNB

In Pictures

The American flag mouthguards in Sochi were so cool. Carly kept wearing his when he got home. I hope he washed it.

Olympic SCOAR! He was Oshie before Oshie was Oshie.

Getting sassed by Alex Ovechkin.

Here’s a gorgeously greasy goal set up by Marty Erat. Yes, him.

Your Turn

Who do you want as the high man on the power play: Green or Carlson? Is John really a top-line defenseman: is his possession too low for the job, or do you attribute that to systems? How bout that flow, dude?

Read more: Japers Rink, Peerless

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  • Matt Lauer

    I still think Carlson is great. Hopefully a more aggressive system will allay all our fears that he, like everyone else, is spiraling down the bowl.

  • Simonezero

    I liked Carlson a lot. I like Carlson on the power play a lot. Having a couple more d-men who are closer to his caliber and can give him a break once in awhile would be nice, but we all know this.

    But please, his flow (unlike our netminder’s) does not work.

  • Owen Johnson

    John Carlson apparently has some ideas on the reasons for his “steady possesion decline.”

  • Carly’s shot-attempt differential per 60 minutes since joining the league.

  • Lawrence

    Good review. I think Carlson took a few steps back under Oates system (why that would surprise anyone, I don’t know). His offensive game diminished greatly this year and at times he was completely invisible at even strength. On the pp, he passes to Ovechkin better than Green, but is not nearly as a threat with his shot. Countless times he found himself wide open at the point with no defenders within 10 feet of him and couldn’t bury it. Not that our pp needed more goals, but its just something I noticed about him. He also toned down his physicality significantly (mainly in front of the net) and his passes out of the zone were not nearly as crisp as they were in prior years. You guys remember when he got called up during the playoffs? He was a lightning rod of energy and passion. I didn’t see enough of that this year.

    I think what all this says to me, is the 24 year-old is not ready to be a #1 defenseman, which he shouldn’t have to be. He would blossom under a vet #1 D. Since I think that might be impossible to obtain, we will have to deal with Carlson’s growing pains. Overall I would give him a 6.8/10 on my expected performance this season, but I have no reason to think he will not improve drastically the next few years.

    On a side note, which one of Orlov, Green, Carlson would you guys be willing to give up in a package for a #1 D? I see them all playing a very similar role and they could be used to get us our biggest need. As much as I love green and I hope he stays for selfish reasons, I think he is unquestionably the easiest for us to give up.

  • Shaun Phillips

    I’m torn on the PPQB. I like JC74’s ability to get the puck through traffic and on net (not 15 ft wide), but I like Greenie’s passing (seems to be more ‘catchable’).

    And the photoshop contest was one of the best things all year.

  • Interesting Q!

    I believe Orlov has a huge upside, but that’s a gamble. Since Green’s durability is suspect, I guess I’d put him on the block first– but only if I knew I already had D depth in place.

  • I think that’s exactly the trade-off on the PP. Very insightful.

  • tpr04

    I would move Green. His contract is up after next year anyway. If you move him, you open up a ton more of salary cap space that let’s you pursue multiple UFA’s and look into more trades. Holding on to him for one more year at that cost is not worth it. We aren’t going to be a cup contender next year anyway.

  • Yeah, poor Mikey. But it looks like he’s done in Washington, and may have to take a hefty pay cut on his next contract if he can’t play 75+..

  • Lawrence

    That’s funny I’ve seen it the exact other way. To me, it seems like Greens better at getting a harder more accurate shot, but Carlson seems to find ovechkin and Backy better. I think we need stats to tell us! haha

  • JH

    I love JC74. I think what would help him out a lot is simply a grizzled older guy in the blue line corps. Most of the guys back there who get lots of ice time are pretty young – even Green. I would think it would be invaluable to get a guy like, say, Orpik, back there who could not only contribute in a stay-at-home kind of way, but also mentor these guys. I think a healthy competition between Green and Carlson (and let’s not forget Dima) for first team PPQB would be nice. As far as letting someone go in a trade, you’d get the most for Carlson. Green’s contract is too big a hit, and Dima is too much of a gamble to get a serious top-shelfer in a trade, I would think.

  • Jonah

    its funny that the goal includes carlson with both of the least utilized players on the team!
    yeah I’m still mad about erat’s treatment.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Green’s are definitely harder, but they’re always wide/high.I lost track of how many shots of his went caroming off the boards and out of play costing the Caps o-zone time on the PP.

  • 70Caps

    I still like greenie. I dont what it is, but despite all of the facts, I have always had just a better gut feeling about green than carlson. I don’t dislike him.. Maybe its just Green’s flow.

  • VeggieTart

    Is there anyone who DIDN’T take a few (or more) steps back under Oates’s system? I think Ovi would have gotten 50+ no matter who was coaching him, but he seemed to founder in other areas.

  • VeggieTart

    Hmmm, what happened in 2011-2012 and then the subsequent years? I wonder…

  • Barrett

    Mike Green should be the high man on the power play. I think Carlson and Green are about equal in their inability to play defense effectively, although Carlson blocks way more shots – having a guy like Alzner as your partner has to be a relief. Priority #1 should be finding a defenseman to pair with Mike Green on that 2nd pairing.

    The one thing I like about Green is his ability to skate with the puck. He can basically carry the puck from zone-to-zone and set the power play up, Carlson just doesn’t have that at the level Green does.

    Any way to look up who was on the ice for more shorties? I seem to remember a couple times Carlson getting caught at the blue line trying to hold pucks in and getting burned.

  • Jake Ettawakapow

    Carlson has the bomb on the power play, Green is really good at getting Ovie the puck. So i don’t know dudes…

  • Lawrence

    Hmm good question lol Maybe Beagle? Ward?

  • Craps Fan1

    I think Carlson can be a good 1st line defenseman, but I’m not quite sold on the Alzner Carlson pairing being a top line pairing. I’d rather see Alzner on the 2nd line. In the right system with the right role and partner I still think Green can be a top line defenseman too, but he has to be unleashed and play to his strengths and he needs an elite shutdown defenseman as his partner.

    As far as Carlson’s possession I’m not too worried about it as with the rest of the team’s possession metrics. There is no doubt in my mind Oates deserves the blame (if Carlson was declining while the rest of the team was standing pat or improving that’d be a different story).

  • Lawrence

    Hmm, yeah I guess you are right about Green missing the net a lot. A lot of him looking bad defensively is when he is lacking confidence for whatever reason. When he gets in his groove, there is only a limited number of players in the entire NHL i would take over 52. One thing I think Carlson is much better at is carrying the puck up out of the defensive zone and getting the team set up. Countless times i’ve witnessed Green screwing up behind our own net.

  • Barrett

    If you do move him, it’s at the deadline to a cup contender if the Caps aren’t in a playoff race. Let him know so you have the option to resign him the next off season. He’s still a good NHL defenseman, just not for $6.5mil per year.

  • Matt Root

    Greens wrister seems better than his slap shot nowadays. When he tee’s up for a slap shot all I am thinking is who is in position to get the puck circling around after his sure wide miss.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Yup. If he would just lay off the slapper and use the wrister more often (more accurate, easier to steer around the initial block at the point, etc), I think he’d be the clear choice for 1 PPQB.

  • Shaun Phillips

    You’re right in confidence being a huge thing for Green (more so than any other dman I’ve watched). Defensive zone is total CF. I think Calle & Oates defensive “system” really screwed with the dmen, especially on the breakout. I think that’s a large part of the reason I think we saw so much Cap-on-Cap violence this year; guys didn’t have a clear idea where they were supposed to be. Give them a clear-cut breakout plan and I think you’ll see Green’s confidence come back. I also hope Oleksy gets another shot as I think he was one of our best breakout passers.

  • The Fresh Prince of Nowhere

    A coach that demands more physicality would perfectly suit him as well. What made him such a valuable asset in Jrs. with the London Knights was his ability to lay the body in deep and shut down the neutral zone. We saw his game improve significantly under Dale Hunter who had encouraged him to play the way he was meant to play upon being drafted. You’re right about the power play. He has a cannon of a shot from the point that makes for a solid option on the 2nd unit.

  • 70Caps

    Its the opposite of that. Carlson always sets up Ovi, and Green is a great shooter.