Good news for the Ottawa Senators on Monday.
Great news, in fact.
The wait will soon be over. Star defenseman Erik Karlsson confirmed that he will make his season debut Tuesday against the visiting Vancouver Canucks after missing the first five games coming back from offseason foot surgery for an injury he played through during the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs.
That will be a huge addition to a Senators lineup that, despite missing their best player and one of the best players in the entire NHL, is on a three-game winning streak and returns from a trip out west that yielded convincing victories over Calgary and Edmonton on back-to-back nights, with Ottawa scoring six goals in each of those contests.
“I think he’s the best player in the world,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Citizen. “It just brings you basically an impact on everything — your breakouts, your transition, your (offensive) zone, your power play, you defensive play, (he’s) your leader. He is who he is. He has such a presence. It’s not just a hockey player. It’s everything around it, too. And it’s time.”
Karlsson’s last game was on May 25, in that thrilling Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final versus Pittsburgh. He underwent foot surgery a few weeks later, and was at the time slated to miss four months. So, as he acknowledged Monday, he could be a little rusty to begin.
Karlsson returned to the ice in September, well after training camps had started. That was another (positive) step in his comeback, though understandably, the Senators and Karlsson didn’t want to risk anything by rushing him back into the lineup before he was absolutely ready.
He’ll return to a team that is 3-0-2 so far, having shaken off two straight shootout losses to begin the season.
The Senators still have yet to lose in regulation, getting off to a solid start following last spring’s surprising playoff run. During that time, Karlsson was the team’s dominant player all while playing injured. So good was Karlsson that he actually garnered a vote for the Conn Smythe Trophy even though his team didn’t make it to the Stanley Cup Final.
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