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2016-17 Rink Wrap: Karl Alzner

From Alzner to Winnik, we're taking a look at and grading the 2016-17 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2017-18. First up, Karl Alzner.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Japers' Rink Player Card (click for a hi-res version; data via, and Cap Friendly):

Alzner's Season, Game-by-Game (via HockeyViz, explained here):

Alzner and His Defense Partners (chart by @muneebalamcu):

Alzner's 5v5 Teammates and Competition (via HockeyViz, explained here):

Alzner's 5v5 Usage (chart by @muneebalamcu):

Alzner's With-or-Without You (via HockeyViz, explained here):

Alzner's Rolling Shot-Attempt (Corsi) -For Percentage (chart by @muneebalamcu):

Alzner's Last Nine Seasons (via

Alzner’s Goals Against Replacement (GAR) Components (chart by @ChartingHockey, data by @DTMAboutHeart, explained here, Tableau here):

Alzner's HERO Chart (via Own The Puck):

Key Stat: Finished with the most TOI shorthanded, by a significant margin, and predictably blocked the most shots on the kill, for the team with the 7th best PK% in the regular season.

Interesting Stat: His shots-for percentage (SF%) in third periods at five-on-five was 50.9; his SF% in each of the first two frames at fives was below 50%.

The Good: Until he suffered a sports hernia injury in Game 6 of the second round of the 2016 post-season, requiring off-season surgery, defenseman Karl Alzner was a model of consistency. Well known for playing a lot of tough minutes for the top regular season team two years running, and combining smart, effective positioning with good mobility, he was regarded by players and coaching alike as “our rock” and the “one guy we can’t lose.” Due to the timing of the injury, Alzner’s “iron man” streak continued, and he played in his 500th consecutive game on January 13 against Chicago (10/8/10-1/13/17), becoming the first player in franchise history to play in 500 consecutive games.

This season, he continued his shutdown role and helped keep the puck out of the net, logging big minutes with the least favorable zone starts of the D-corps. After some juggling of the D pairs in December and re-uniting of Alzner with John Carlson, the Caps went on a 16-2-2 surge, before Carlson was sidelined for a few games, and never looked back.

The Bad: While he posted a career high in plus/minus (+23), his poor possession numbers this season, a marked decline from the last regular season campaign when they hovered around 50% in similar usage, can’t be ignored. Contrast his numbers to those of Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov, who essentially took over from Alzner and Carlson the role of #1 shutdown pair for the second half of the regular season and into the playoffs.

Alzner struggled at times in critical situations, both during the regular season and in the playoffs, when a team would expect a shutdown D to do just that to the opposition. Last off-season’s hernia surgery, together with a broken hand suffered in Game 1 of this spring’s first round series against the Leafs, certainly don’t help to improve the forecast for next season.

The Video:

The Vote: Rate Alzner below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.

The Discussion: Is Alzner worth re-signing, given his recent injury history and noticeable decline in supporting possession and the transition game, and at what price and term? What would it take for you to give him a "10" next year?

Other Alzner Season Reviews: RMNB, Stars and Sticks


How do you rate Karl Alzner's 2016-17 season?

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307 votes total Vote Now