The problem with anything that is absolutely, flawlessly perfect is that if there's ever any regression, if there's so much as a single step back, it's noticeable. That doesn't mean that what used to be perfect is now completely useless and terrible--it mostly means that we're spoiled, but when you're aware that a defensive pairing is capable of being stalwart, productive, responsible, completely precocious for their age and then suddenly they're looking a little average, you can't help but wonder what's going on.
Carlson and Alzner have always been there for us--they've been there during the ugly playoffs series, the losing streaks, they were there during the dark nasty November somehow putting up positive +/- and Corsi ratings in blowout games and generally letting us know that there was nothing to worry about, they had this covered. Perhaps that's why it's so strange to see this pairing on the ice for bunches of scoring chances in recent games, to see them looking confused and out of place sometimes, to see them give up goals. That's not Carlzner, or at least not the Carlzner we're used to.
If this were a Superman comic, this would be the time to start looking around for Kryptonite somewhere in the frame.
There are plenty of possible reasons for this. There's Jim Johnson's new, demanding man-to-man defensive system, there's the world-class lines they're matched up with every night, there's even good old-fashioned regression--after their rockstar season last year, maybe there wasn't anywhere to go but down.
I don't believe that. I'm not looking for reasons to hate anybody on my team, and I'm certainly not going to do it after a short stretch of bad games. Carlson and Alzner need to step up, but I believe that they'll do it. I believe they're going to be a franchise pairing for years to come, and I love them. That doesn't mean that the way they're playing right now is excused, though--the boys need to refocus and get their act together. This is probably how to do it:
I don't want either of them traded. I don't want the pairing split up. I just want them to play like I know they can, and I have complete confidence that they will.
Sooner would be better than later.