The season-ending Achilles injury to Erik Karlsson was a huge blow to the Ottawa Senators, who were one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference when their top defenseman went down. The team was already without star forward Jason Spezza and is now in danger of wasting a great season from goaltender Craig Anderson.
Karlsson’s six goals continue to lead the team even in his absence and while it will be hard to replace the amount of time he spends on the ice, the remaining defensemen on the team now have a chance to step up their performance. Karlsson is not only the best defenseman on the team, but one of the best in the NHL today. Veterans Chris Phillips and Sergei Gonchar have a chance to play a bigger role on the team, and can help alleviate some of the pain of Karlsson’s loss. Gonchar will likely see the most ice time moving forward, is a capable scorer on the power play and has the kind of postseason experience that this Senators team needs.
Gonchar scored five goals and added 32 assists for Ottawa last season, and that kind of production would go a long way in this shortened season. With Patrick Wiercioch and Mark Methot not producing much, Gonchar and Phillips will be leaned on even more the rest of the season. Three games in the New York area this week will test the Senators as they face the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and New York Rangers in a four-day span.