BOSTON | There have been times this season when John Carlson has skated away from post-whistle scrums. Thursday night in Game 1 at the Boston Bruins, Carlson was in the middle of it all.
On one occasion he went after David Krejci for getting too close to Braden Holtby, and during the action kept up the physical presence as part of perhaps his best defensive game of the season.
“I don’t know. I don’t really judge myself on game-to-game,” Carlson said. “I think I know if I play good or bad and what I need to do to get better. I thought I played well last night, but obviously that doesn’t mean anything. We lost that game.”
But that shouldn’t take away from Carlson’s strong performance. He had a snarl on the defensive end as part of the shutdown duo with Karl Alzner going up against the likes of Krejci and Milan Lucic.
“We’ve been talking about being tougher to play against and letting guys know that we’re there,” Alzner said. “He’s doing a great job of doing that. He’s skating hard, he’s talking lots. He’s hitting, so he’s doing everything that needs to be done.”
Carlson has struggled on both ends of the ice for much of the year. He scored in the regular-season finale at the New York Rangers, which snapped an extensive drought, but the defensive side is where the Caps need him to succeed.
Game 1 was a glimpse of Carlson at his best defensively because he was mixing things up and taking jabs at the Bruins.
“He was strong down low in our defensive zone, he was making good breakout passes,” forward Matt Hendricks said. “I thought he played outstanding, yeah. I thought he did a great job.”