On Thursday, he was thrust into action against the Penguins thanks to an injury to defenseman Mike Green.
"I've been all over the map I think in the past few weeks," laughed Carlson. "But it's what you have to do as a hockey player. I'm very willing to do whatever it takes to play here and get my nose dirty. That's my job and I love it and I'd do it every day."
The 20-year-old logged over 17 minutes of ice-time on Thursday, finished as a plus-two and earned his first NHL assist -- something he had to do twice on the night -- during the Capitals' 6-3 win.
Carlson was originally awarded an assist on Eric Fehr's second period goal, only to have it taken away later in the game and be given to his partner, Shaone Morrisonn. He wouldn't go long without it as he returned to the score sheet with a helper on Tomas Fleischmann's game-winning goal two minutes into third period. His pass along the boards in the defensive zone went to Alexander Semin, who then proceeded to make the pass of the night to Fleischmann to turn him loose on a breakaway.
"Well, I knew it wasn't my assist the first time so I wasn't really thinking about it being taken away too much," said Carlson. "Plus, I'd rather it be a real first point anyway. Shaone (Morrisonn), my partner, has been great. Obviously he's been showing up and he makes the game a lot easier for me."
A first-round pick of the Capitals (No. 27 overall) in 2008, Carlson is one of Washington's top prospects -- and one of the top prospects in the NHL -- and became a star for USA hockey earlier this month when he scored the game-winning goal, in overtime, of the World Junior Championships to give the United States the gold medal over host Canada. When asked which will be a better memory going forward, his first NHL point or that goal, he paused.