The Washington Capitals' leading scorer has 14 points in eight games. Most people would assume that would be Alex Ovechkin.
However, the leading point producer in Washington is defenseman John Carlson. Heading into Friday's home clash with the New York Rangers, Carlson has five multi-point games en route to compiling three goals and 11 assists in eight games.
"I'm just getting lucky," Carlson told NHL.com. "I think guys are making some good plays to me, and the guys I'm passing to are scoring right now. Especially as a (defenseman), it's pretty streaky. You just take them when you can."
Carlson, who collected a career-high 70 points last season, has netted the most points by any defenseman in franchise history through the first eight games of a season. Only seven rearguards in league history have match that feat, the most recent being Paul Reinhart (15 points through eight games) in 1989-90 with the Vancouver Canucks.
Washington has only two forwards who have netted that many points in the first eight games: Ovechkin with 16 points in 2009-10 and Alexander Semin with 14 in 2008-09.
The Rangers arrive in Washington after a 5-2 road loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday -- New Jersey's first win of the season.
After opening the season with a pair of wins, the Rangers have dropped two straight and been outscored by a 9-3 count. In comparison, New York racked up 10 goals in its first two outings.
The schedule-maker hasn't been too kind to them in an uncommon way. Following their opening two clashes, the Rangers played just one game in 11 days leading up to their clash with the Devils. No matter how hard a team practices, that can make a club rusty -- not that they can publicly say it.
"We got our chances," defenseman Adam Fox said. "That's just how it goes. I don't know if we can really blame the schedule for that."
The games will come faster now for the Rangers, who play five times in eight nights.
"The good news is, we get to play more hockey," said coach David Quinn, who believed his team had plenty of energy. "It's tough to emulate it in practice. We're going to be able to draw from today and be better at it tomorrow."
With Alexandar Georgiev having played on Thursday, watch for Henrik Lundqvist in goal against the Capitals.
Speaking of goalies, while the Capitals have their offensive moxie going, they're also in the midst of a small goalie controversy. Long-time top netminder Braden Holtby has struggled to start the season -- posting a 1-1-2 record with a 4.27 goals-against average and .846 save percentage -- while rookie Ilya Samsonov has a 3-1 mark with a 1.84 average and .933 save percentage.
Samsonov is coming off a strong performance in Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, holding the fort after allowing a pair of first-period goals.
"I thought it was a really good game for a young goaltender because things probably didn't go exactly how he wanted in the first, and he made an adjustment," coach Todd Reirden said. "For a young goaltender to make that adjustment in-game -- the amount of emotion he had in his game in the first, and he completely settled down -- and he let pucks again start to hit him ... was big. He was a presence."
--Field Level Media
Carlson confident ahead of Caps' matchup vs. Rangers
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