The Ottawa Senators are four points up on the ninth place New Jersey Devils, nestled in the sixth seed of the Eastern Conference. There’s currently only a 3-percent chance the Senators tumble out of the playoff picture, but four losses in a row and a 5-5-0 record in their last 10 are a little concerning.
Enter Erik Karlsson. Maybe.
Karlsson has skated in the public eye for the last two days, as the brilliant young defenseman appears to be making a miraculous recovery from a sliced Achilles tendon. If he was to return, it was going to be deep into the playoffs. Now it appears he might be riding to the rescue early.
Said captain Daniel Alfredsson, via the Ottawa Sun:
"He's a pretty optimistic guy and that's a big help when you're going through something like this. He doesn't get down. He's worked really hard. I've been impressed with his dedication. If somebody tells you the season is probably over, it would have been easy to just accept that, to say 'OK, it's over, I don't have to do much.' But he's really pushed himself, and at least he's giving himself a chance to come back.
"The way we've been playing, we've been in a playoff spot, it obviously gives him hope that even if he couldn't be back for the last two weeks, maybe the last few games or whatever, it's obviously encouraged him," added Alfredsson.
Now, maybe Erik Karlsson is actually Wolverine and can heal faster than any homosapien could, being that the recovery time was a minimum of six months and we’re not even at two months yet. For goodness sake, he was just saying on March 27 that he couldn’t run yet.
Or maybe this is a nice carrot placed in front of the Sens as they try to regain their foothold late in the season.
They certainly don’t want to have him go through all this work to get back 3 or 4 months sooner than expected just to have the team not still be playing when he can go. It might just add that extra bit of motivation (not that it should be required) to make sure they do finish the job and make the playoffs, and go as deep as they can in order to get him back.
Interesting theory. Either way, the thought of the Senators in the playoffs with Karlsson and Jason Spezza back on the roster is a scary one for the conference.
Unless, of course, the tumble continues for Ottawa.