Capitals’ shutdown-specialist Karl Alzner drawing comparisons to Hall of Famer Langway

Defenseman Karl Alzner, 23, is praised by Capitals brass for his sound technique, and he wants to add offense to his repertoire. "I've been working on handling the puck more and making better plays." (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Defenseman Karl Alzner, 23, is praised by Capitals brass for his sound technique, and he wants to add offense to his repertoire. “I’ve been working on handling the puck more and making better plays.” (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
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That’s never been Alzner, dating to his days in junior with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. All the hype back then about the dependable kid who was a big-time NHL prospect, teammate Jeff Schultz said, has been justified.

As for the comparison to Langway, Alzner jokingly asked if he would have to grow a mustache to mimic the Caps legend but also understands the grand compliment that it is.

“I’d love to be able to live up to those expectations,” he said, “and I’m without a doubt going to try.”

To get even closer, Alzner talked up adding more offense to his repertoire. It wouldn’t be a totally new trick, as he managed 47 points during one junior season. He’s also been telling Carlson to be ready to get back while he jumps up into the play more often.

“That’s just something that I want to try a little bit more. I’ve been working on handling the puck more and making better plays and just making better reads up ice,” Alzner said. “You don’t have to be the most skilled guy, but if you can read the play well then you’re going to get those chances.”

Adding offense, and maybe some more bite, would go a long way toward not only getting his No. 27 in the Verizon Center rafters alongside Langway’s No. 5 but delivering a Stanley Cup banner, too. It’s hard for a team to make a deep playoff run without a guy like Alzner, who is counted on not to make critical mistakes.

And as hard as it may be to quantify greatness for defensive defensemen such as Alzner, Langway pointed out when it’s easy.

“When you win championships,” he said. “You understand how good he is when you win key games and you’re a big part of it.”

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