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The Narrative: Carlson On-Point, Eliminati Confirmed, and Shot Suppression

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Three things we’re talking about today when we’re talking about the Caps

New York Islanders v Washington Capitals - Game Four Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

1. Carlson On-Point

Say what you will (and we have) about John Carlson’s defense so far in the playoffs, but he hasn’t missed a beat in terms of offensive production. After leading all NHL defenders in regular-season points (his 75 points in 69 games were ten points better than second-place Roman Josi and 20 points more than third-place Victor Hedman), he’s piled up six points (all assists) in four games against the Isles. For those of you keeping score at home, that means he’s contributed to all but two of the Caps’ goals in the series.

Carlson’s six points puts him behind five other blueliners in playoff points, but each of those defenders has played between seven and nine games; Carlson’s 1.50 points per game leads all rearguards.

(Sidenote: Carlson’s 1.09 points per game during the regular season were the most for an NHL defenseman with at least 20 games played in a campaign in a quarter of a century, since Paul Coffey in 1994-95... more than Mike Green or Erik Karlsson or Nicklas Lidstrom ever had. That’s not nothin’.)

The bottom line here is that when Carlson is on the ice, pucks are going in the nets. Both of ‘em.

2. Eliminati Confirmed

Play a lot of playoff games, play a lot of elimination games. That’s usually how it works. For Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby, that’s often when they’ve been at their best (stuff your Game 7 against the Rangers in 2013 and other examples... I said “often”).

With Tuesday night’s win under his belt, Holtby is now 9-6/.933/1.84 when facing elimination. Ovechkin, in those situations, has posted 13 goals and 11 assists in 25 games, and has game-winning tallies in two of the last three games he’s played while facing elimination.

O Captain! My Captain!

It would be nice for the Caps to ease some of the burden on these two, but it’s also good to know that they both tend to show up when needed... and they’ll almost certainly be needed tonight.

3. Shot Suppression

The 26 shots on goal the Caps allowed in Game 4 were the fewest they’ve allowed in a (real) playoff game since Game 3 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final (which, btw, the Caps won - both the game and the series - in case you’d forgotten). The 27 five-on-five shot attempts they surrendered were the fewest since holding the Flyers to 17 back in Game 5 of their 2016 series (per Natural Stat Trick). Muster up another effort like that, and the Caps will be looking at a Game 6 in this series.