NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
The current pace. With 11 goals and 43 total points through the Capitals’ first 32 games Carlson is currently on an 82-game pace that would give him 27 goals and 109 total points. It would be asking a lot and probably setting an unreachable bar to expect him to maintain this pace, but let’s just pretend he can for a second just for laughs.
This is how rare such an offensive performance would be.
- There have only been 14 100-point seasons for defensemen in NHL history, while only five different players have done it (Bobby Orr six times, Paul Coffey five times, Denis Potvin, Al MacInnis, and Brian Leetch once each).
- It has not been done since Leetch did it for the New York Rangers during the 1991-92 season.
- Carlson would need 57 points in 50 games to reach that mark.
- No defenseman has topped 90 points since Ray Bourque during the 1993-94 season. Carlson could get there with 47 points in 50 games, which is similar to the per-game pace he scored at the previous two seasons.
- Only three defensemen have topped 80 points since 1995-96 (Nicklas Lidstrom in 2005-06, Erik Karlsson in 2015-16, Brent Burns in 2018-19).
No stat padding going on here. His 43 points entering Wednesday are 13 more than any other defenseman in the league (Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton is closest), and while he no doubt gets a boost by being a part of the Capitals’ power play unit alongside Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and T.J. Oshie, it is not just the power play that is driving his production.
His 30 even-strength points are 10 more than the next closest defender (Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber is the closest with 20 points at even-strength).
He also leads all defenseman with 20 first assists, which are eight more than any other defender in the league.
Thirty-one of his 43 points are primary points (meaning he either scored the goal, or had the first assist on a goal scored by someone else). No other defenseman in the league has more than 22 primary points (Hamilton has 22). Only 12 of his 43 points have come by way of a “secondary” assist.
Driving the offense. Carlson has had a hand (scoring or assisting) in 37 percent of the Capitals’ goals this season. Hamilton is the only other defenseman in the league that has contributed to more than 30 percent of their their team’s goals (Hamilton is just over 30 percent).
Dominant three-year stretch offensively. Here is where Carlson has ranked among the NHL’s defenseman since the start of the 2017-18 season.
- Goals: second (39)
- Assists: first (142)
- Total points: first (181)
- Shots on goal: fourth (514)
- Even-strength goals: second (30)
- Game-winning goals: first (9)
He was mostly a top-20 defenseman in all of those categories in the three years prior to that, and throughout most of his career. This current level of production, where he is in the top-two in almost everything, is a recent development for him over the past three years.
Is there a flaw? With numbers like this offensively it would seem to make Carlson a lock to at least be a finalist for the Norris Trophy, but if there is one thing that might hold him back it’s that his defensive metrics in terms of shot attempts, scoring chances, and goals against are all only middle of the pack or worse (via Natural Stat Trick). Meaning that for as much as he is giving the Capitals offensively, other teams are getting a lot for themselves as well. Right now it is still working out in the Capitals’ favor as they are getting significantly more with Carlson on the ice. His dominance this season is almost entirely offensively driven.
Multi-point games. Carlson already has 13 multi-point games this season, six more than any other defender in the league. Only nine defensemen topped that number during the entire 2018-19 season. That includes six three-point games. No other defenseman in the league has more than three. Only two defensemen had six three-point games a year ago (Mark Giordano had eight; Brent Burns had six) for the entire season. The Capitals are 5-1-0 in his three-point games this season. Since the start of the 2015-16 season NHL teams are 358-38-0 when a defenseman has at least three points in a game. That is a 90 percent winning percentage.
Kathryn Tappen will host Wednesday’s coverage on NHL Live alongside analysts Patrick Sharp and Keith Jones and NHL insider Darren Dreger. Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Brian Boucher will call Bruins-Capitals from Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.