When Erik Karlsson went down with his Achilles injury earlier this season, things looked pretty bleak for the Ottawa Senators. While they aren’t necessarily a team that lacks the proper depth, it’s nearly impossible to account for the loss of a superstar like Karlsson.
Karlsson went down after he tore his Achilles, courtesy of Matt Cooke, who stepped on his skate with his own blade. That started a whole firestorm in regard to Cooke, but the more immediate concern for Ottawa was how they would be able to maintain their strong start without him.
While the Sens didn’t have the easiest of times putting the puck in the net, they managed to play strong defense and grabbed the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The lack of offense really showed the type of impact that Karlsson brings to the table in that side of things on a nightly basis.
With Karlsson back in the fold, the Senators are looking like a serious threat in the Eastern Conference. They easily dispatched of the Montreal Canadiens, setting up their second round series with the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. They lost Game 1, but have a lot of series still to go.
It’s impossible to imagine that the Senators would be where they are without Karlsson in the mix. In six games so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Karlsson is averaging a point per game. He had a goal and an assist in the first game against the Habs, and has since added four more helpers to the stat sheet.
Two of those six points have come with the Senators on the man advantage, and Karlsson has a plus-4 rating for the series. Don’t let the fact that he’s a defenseman fool you. He’s one of the biggest offensive threats that this team has, and is really the heart and soul of that offensive attack.
If the Senators are able to come back and pull off the upset against the Penguins, look to Karlsson as a massive reason as to how they were able to do so.