Erik Karlsson is probably the single biggest reason the Ottawa Senators are still playing this postseason.
That is why it was such a devastating blow when he was not available for the third period of the team’s Game 4 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday night due to an injury. Coach Guy Boucher quickly announced following the game that Karlsson will be ready for Game 5 on Saturday afternoon when the series shifts back to Ottawa. Perhaps even bigger is the announcement from Boucher that he has no plans to limit Karlsson’s playing time and that he expects his best player to play his usual minutes.
“He’s ready to go,” said Boucher, via NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “We should be able to give him the minutes he usually gets.”
The Rangers have made it a point to target Karlsson physically during this season and are trying to wear him down.
He was injured on Thursday following a collision with Chris Kreider. This came after he revealed that he was playing through hairline fractures in his foot in the first-round against the Boston Bruins.
Karlsson, one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy this season as the NHL’s top defenseman, has been averaging more than 28 minutes of ice-time per game and is the single most important cog in the Senators’ machine. His ability to move the puck out of the zone, serve as a one-man breakout, and join the play offensively is unmatched anywhere in the NHL at this point.