is expected to play Sunday night for the Washington Capitals
in Game 2 of this series despite missing most of the third period in Game 1 and not practicing Saturday.
Carlson participated in the morning skate Sunday and both he and coach Bruce Boudreau
said he is ready to go.
"If he's playing, he's playing. I assume he's playing. I don't know the big deal – guys get banged up a little bit and it takes you 24 hours to sorta get better sometimes, and that's where he is. There's no question."
Added Carlson: "I feel great. I had a day off and now we're here. It's an exciting time of the year, too, and everyone wants to go all the time. We need this next game. This next game's real big for us."
Carlson is in his first full season in the NHL, but he was essentially Washington's No. 1 during the regular season because of injuries to Mike Green
and Dennis Wideman
. He had 7 goals and 37 points while averaging more than 22 minutes of ice time in the regular season, and that figure is up over 23 per game in the postseason despite missing time in Game 1.
He and Karl Alzner
have formed Boudreau's most-used defensive pairing and often see the ice against the opposing team's top forwards.
"He's used to playing those minutes and he's very good at it," Alzner said. "He benefits the team tremendously offensively and defensively and he benefits me a lot. I wouldn't be able to play as good as I have played in certain games without him, because he's a big key to my success as well. He's a warrior, too, so it's a nice thing that he's gonna battle through whatever he can battle through."
Carlson has played in every game this season -- tough for any defenseman to do but he also played through a leg injury earlier in the season. He blocked a shot and walked with a limp for more than a week after the injury, but played through it in part because the team was thin on defense at the time (before trades for Scott Hannan
"When you play 82 games, there's gonna be times where you don't feel like playing and to still play – that makes really good hockey players really good hockey players," Boudreau said. "He's a tough man and we expect him to be in."