Heavy lifting for Alzner, Carlson

Heavy lifting for Alzner, Carlson
December 9, 2011, 6:40 pm
Share This Post

When Dale Hunter replaced Bruce Boudreau on Nov. 28 andhired Jim Johnson to coach the Capitals defense the following night, the twomade it clear there would be a change in the way the Caps distributed ice timeto their blue liners.In short, whoever is playing well will get a ton of icetime. The others, not so much.So far, Dennis Wideman, Karl Alzner and John Carlson havebeen the big winners, while John Erskine, Dmitry Orlov and Jeff Schultz havegotten less ice time.
The minutes are going to get separated, said Alzner, whotook 40 shifts and saw 27 minutes, 40 seconds of ice against the Senators Wednesdaynight. Im sure there are going to be games where you see me down around 14minutes and other guys up at the top. It depends on how youre playing. Itdoesnt matter who you are, youve got to be playing good.On Wednesday night, Alzner and Carlson were hopping over theboards for nearly every shift as Johnson tried getting them out there againstthe Senators top two lines. Tonight against the Leafs should be the samedrill, with the two defensemen being asked to shut down the top line of PhilKessel, Tim Connolly and Joffrey Lupul.
JJ (Johnson) doesnt want the wrong matchup out there, soevery faceoff hes making sure hes got who he wants out there, Alzner said.Like Alzner, Carlson was a workhorse against the Senators,logging 27:35 of ice time on 41 shifts. Hepicked up his second straight three-point game and is now third on the team inscoring with 19 points.
Carlson said he was absolutely worn down from Wednesdaynights game, but loved every minute of it and doesnt mind carrying the loaduntil Mike Green returns from his groin injury.Its not easy, but its very exciting when you play that much,he said. We still have a defenseman whos hurt right now and thats going to takea load off everyone when hes back. For the time being everybody else needs tostep up and play a little bit more.
Or less.Schultz saw just 3:55 of ice time against the Senators andis expected to sit out tonights game in favor of Roman Hamrlik. Through 25games this season Schultz has five assists and is a plus-1 while averaging 16:08of ice time.
Johnson said hes trying to get Schultz back to the form hehad two seasons ago when he played alongside Mike Green and led all NHL playerswith a plus-50 rating.We just need to continue to work with him and get himbetter and get him believing he is the player he was two years ago and Ibelieve we can get there, Johnson said.
Hes big (6-foot-6, 230 pounds), hes got a good stick andhes got a good reach. Id like to see him get a little more explosive and alittle more aggressive in the corners and in front of the net. Its a littlebit out of his personality but theres no reason we cant get that out of him.Hes a player I expect to grow and grow big for us.
Schultz worked one-on-one with Johnson after todays morningskate and said he does not want to dwell on Wednesday nights benching.Its about getting back to the way I played a couple yearsago when I had that breakout season, he said. Its getting back that confidentlevel I know I can play at.
(Two years ago) I was very self-confident. When I got outthere, there were no doubts in myself. I just went out there and played. Mikeand I worked really well together.