By Faith Harris
Capitals’ general manager Brian MacLellan gave an injury update on John Carlson during his annual post-trade deadline press conference.
MacLellan said that the first-pairing defenseman could officially return to the lineup, perhaps, as soon as the end of March. But it’s also possible Carlson’s season may be over as well.
“He’s got a little bit (of time) left,” MacLellan said. “He has a set timeframe here. Near the end of March, around that timeframe, is when we can get serious about if he can come back.”
Carlson has been out since December 23 after absorbing a slap shot from Brenden Dillon to the side of the head. The Capitals have posted an 11-14-2 record during his absence and have been outscored 87 to 79. The team essentially fell out of contention for a final playoff spot during that time. MacLellan pointed to Carlson’s absence as one of the main reasons why the team has scuffled so badly.
“He’s your number one D that plays 22 or 23 minutes a night out of our lineup since the end of December,” MacLellan said. “I thought we had a really good December where we outplayed teams and played really well. Had a really good record. Then John went down and that’s when I think our inconsistency started.
“It’s hard to replace a guy like him,” he continued. “We bumped guys up in the lineup and increased their minutes, which most of them handled well, but it’s still not the same as having John in there playing both the power play and penalty killing. I do think it had a big effect on the results from the end of December on. It contributed to what I would call our inconsistencies. There’s games where we played really well against real good teams and then there was games where we didn’t play well against lower-tier teams that we probably should have. Having Carly in there would have had a big impact on our lineup.”
Carlson has been skating the ice since January 27th and working with Capitals’ skating coach Wendy Marco on returning to his game. He is currently accompanying the team on their four-game road trip.
Even with the effects on the lineup, MacLellan isn’t willing to rush Carlson’s return and said it would be up to him if he ultimately plays again this season.
“I think it’s going to be on [John] on how he’s progressing and how he’s feeling,” he said. “We’ll kind of make a decision with him and our staff – the medical staff and trainers.”
MacLellan also provided an update on Nick Jensen and Martin Fehervary, who suffered injuries against the Anaheim Ducks on March 1. Jensen had an upper-body injury while Fehervary’s was lower-body. MacLellan said that things seem to be looking up for the two.
“I think it’s a little more positive than we originally thought,” he noted. “It wasn’t as bad as we initially thought for Jensen and then Marty was always just a shorter-term injury.”
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