At times Karl Alzner and John Carlson have been so inseparable as defensive partners that they even have a nickname, “Carlzner.” But for much of the past few months, the young Washington Capitals defensemen were split up.
Dale Hunter reunited them in Thursday’s 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers.
“It’s just a feel thing,” Hunter said. “I thought they played well together and I thought the D played very well.”
Alzner and Carlson were the shutdown pairing against Florida’s top line of Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg. That’s not anything new for Alzner, but Carlson has struggled on the defensive end this season (minus-15 rating).
Knowing they’d be playing together, Alzner and Carlson prepared for the reunion.
“We did a little bit extra homework before the game yesterday and just really wanted to watch exactly what we needed to do to shut some guys down,” Alzner said Friday. “We’ve both had some ups and downs; when we’ve played with each other, it’s a relaxing feeling.”
Carlson said Thursday night “you guys know I love playing with him,” but noted “there are bigger things tonight than to talk about him.” Yes, clinching the playoffs is important, but Alzner and Carlson performing so well in this reunion had a lot to do with that.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s game at the New York Rangers, it’s likely they’ll be together again.
“It’s nice when we’re partnered up together,” Alzner said. “But now that we know we can play with any other guy on the team, it’s also a good thing in case it needs to come down to that.”