You can check out The Washington Times’ 2011-12 Washington Capitals Season Preview here, featuring stories on the Stanley Cup, Tomas Vokoun, Joel Ward & Troy Brouwer, Karl Alzner as the next Rod Langway and the Hershey Bears. Each story, though, includes some “On the cutting room floor” extra content. Here’s the lowdown on Karl Alzner following in the strides of Caps legend Rod Langway:
When public address announcer Wes Johnson described a round-table team forum from the year before Karl Alzner and John Carlson became full-time Capitals players, he said it was hard to tell which young defenseman was talking.
“They’re really close, and that really translates to their play on the ice,” he said. “You can tell the differences in their game when they’re out there, but the two of them together become an entirely different entity.”
Johnson isn’t done. He loves the nickname “Carlzner” for Washington’s top blue-line pairing and compared it to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s immortal couple name – “Brangelina.”
Alzner drew comparisons to Rod Langway given his defensive prowess and determination not to be the guy who gets beat. A lot of that success has to do with a comfort level with Carlson.
“It just works out well that Carly is the guy that likes to go and I’m the guy that likes to stay,” Alzner said. “At the same time I want to help him out a little bit, too – sometimes after games he gets pretty tired from rushing up and down the ice.”
Carlson jokingly took issue with the phrasing that Alzner is a “safety gauge” for his own willingness to jump up into the offense. But Carlson knows the drill.
“It’s huge to have a guy so steady back there and I know that I’m going to make mistakes throughout the course of the year and to have a great defender and we know each other well, so we know when someone’s going to jump or someone’s going to stay,” he said. “You just shake it off if it’s a bad play and you know he’s not going to think you’re crazy for trying things.”
And a Stanley Cup winning team needs a pair like Alzner and Carlson. Forget about one shutdown guy, Langway said, you need two.
“You need a pair that can play against anybody. Nowadays the last two minutes of every period and at the end of the game where you know even if you’re shorthanded you have an opportunity to not get scored upon,” Langway said. “You trust a good defenseman who’s a skilled defenseman that they know how to play the game from the inside out.”
That’s Alzner. And as he continues his ascent to the hard-to-reach goal of becoming like the “Secretary of Defense,” he and Carlson are earning a reputation that goes beyond just being close friends.
“When you think of Karl Alzner right now, and you look at him as a defensive player, his skill set is amazing,” Johnson said. “Especially, though, when you put him on a line with Carlson, who’s got that same ability but also has that shot for the offensive side.
“I think the two of them together as a tandem could go down in history as one of the best tandems we’ve had on defense.”
Mike Gartner doesn’t watch enough Caps hockey nowadays to judge Alzner’s game. But he knows Langway well enough to have a good idea.
“I do know the kind of player Roddy was,” he said. “Rod was a guy that came and I never saw Rod have a bad practice, let alone a bad game. He brought it to the rink all the time. He brought it to the rink for practice, he brought it for games. He played a very sound defensive game – didn’t get himself into a lot of trouble at all, was not a fancy player by any stretch, was a very difficult guy to play against.
“So if those are the comparisons, then they’d probably be pretty accurate.”
In a similar sense, Alzner was flattered by a comparison to Langway.
“Obviously he’s a very well-known and very successful defenseman,” he said. “Having any sort of comparison with anybody who’s played in the league for a long time and done well is an incredible honor for me and I never would’ve expected anything like that.”
Click here to read the full story on the Alzner and Langway from the special section.