If the San Jose Sharks are going to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs they are going to have their work cut out for them over the next month or so.
Not only do they have a grueling schedule against several of the league’s top teams, while also being in an extremely tight playoff race in the Western Conference, they are going to have to do so without one of their top players until at least mid-March.
The Sharks announced on Tuesday that defenseman Erik Karlsson underwent a procedure on his forearm this week and is going to be sidelined indefinitely. The Sharks gave no timetable for his return, only saying that recovery for this injury varies in time and that it is expected that he will be re-evaluated in mid-March.
This is a pretty brutal blow for the Sharks right now. Karlsson has been having a really strong bounce back season, and as of Tuesday had already scored eight goals and 26 total points in his first 33 games this season. It has been one of his best seasons in a few years and a big part of the Sharks’ surprising push for a playoff spot.
The Sharks entered the day on Tuesday tied with Calgary and Dallas for the second Wild Card spot with 44 points in the standings. There are two major problems though. The first is the Sharks have played more games than all of them, and based on points percentage they are 12th place in the Western Conference. Even worse, they are in the middle of a brutal part of the schedule that takes them on a four-game road trip against Washington, Carolina, Florida, and Tampa Bay, some of the best teams in the league. They have already lost four of their past five games (with losses to the Rangers, Penguins, Kraken, and Lightning) to slide down the standings.
There are 20 games between today and the March 21 trade deadline, and if things do not turn around for them quickly it could put them into a definite seller mode before then. Karlsson’s absence might only accelerate that.