CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2013-14 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Karl Alzner
Position: Left Defense
Age: 25 [turns 26 Sept. 24]
Ht/Wt: 6-2, 217
Penalty minutes: 26
Average Ice Time: 20:32
Contract Status: 3 years remaining on 4-year, $11.2 million contract [$2.8 million cap hit in 2013-14]
Strengths: Steady and reliable in his own end, Alzner relies on strong defensive positioning, most of which was spent alongside John Carlson on the Caps’ top defensive pairing. Alzner was one of seven Caps to play in all 82 games this season, joining Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom, Joel Ward, Jason Chimera, Troy Brouwer and Tom Wilson.
Weaknesses: Alzner and Carlson struggled in the first month of the season, prompting them to be split up. Alzner does not take full advantage of his size and strength and perhaps with some extra work in the weight room this summer he can be more assertive in the defensive zone. Alzner is beginning to be more creative in the offensive zone but could use some work on getting pucks through from the point, especially at even strength.
Memorable Moment: On Dec. 7, 2013, Alzner recorded his first goal – ever – at VerizonCenter, hammering a slapshot past Nashville Predators netminder Marek Mazenek. “It wasn’t the prettiest goal, I guess,” Alzner said, “but I’m happy I finally got one.” Alzner had played parts of six seasons and 148 games in D.C. before lighting the lamp on home ice. “All of the guys were well aware of that,” he said. “I think that’s why the celebration was a little longer than normal because it was a big milestone for me.” As for less than memorable moments, Alzner said his minus-3 night in Philadelphia on Dec. 17, a 5-2 loss, is one he'd like to forget.
2014-15 Expectations: Unless the Caps can land a No. 1 or No. 2 defenseman in the offseason, Alzner will return as the Caps’ No. 2 blue liner next season alongside Carlson. Is he good enough to shut down opponents’ top forwards every night? Yes. But he could use some help from the Caps’ second unit and needs to finish a plus-player if the Caps hope to return to the playoffs next spring.