EDITOR'S NOTE: You've arrived at the CBJ Power Rankings, our weekly breakdown of the top-five players, statistics, trends and many other Blue Jackets-related categories. If you're looking for the traditional power rankings, you've come to the wrong place. We'll go in-depth and outside the box, and hopefully give you something to think about.
Any team with Stanley Cup aspirations knows that it will need steady goaltending, scoring depth, and a little bit of luck to make a deep postseason run. But one of the most important ingredients for any championship recipe is that stud blue liner, the defenseman who can eat up the minutes for his head coach and hop over the boards at any point in a game. According to Hockey-Reference.com, Nicklas Lidstrom averaged 26:54 per night over the course of his career and over 28 minutes a game in the playoffs. Chis Pronger averaged 27:28 during the regular season and 29:40 in the playoffs. These go-to defenders are trusted in any situation, can spark the offense, and can shut down the opposition's best. This week we countdown this season's top minutes-eaters in the Metropolitan Division. (Minimum of 20 games played).
John Carlson, Washington Capitals
John Carlson was a first-round pick in 2008, and by the time he had earned a full-time role on the Capitals' blue line, he was already highly-touted for his size, strength, and offensive touch. Carlson had played two strong seasons with the Indiana Ice (one prior to being drafted), and followed it up with a 76-point season in the OHL with the London Knights. At the 2010 World Junior Championship, he scored one of the most important goals in U.S. junior team history when his overtime wrister won gold for the United States over Canada on Canadian soil.
Carlson is averaging 23:13 per game, after averaging over 24 minutes to lead the Capitals last season. His plus-9 rating leads the Capitals, while his 22 points are tied for fourth in the league among defenseman. In any situation, head coach Barry Trotz is calling on Carlson, second in power play time for Washington defensemen behind Green, and first on the team in PK time.