It seems like losing two important games in a row would make the title of this article seem obvious, but the Senators really need to make sure they do not become bystanders when defenseman Erik Karlsson finally lines up for game action. With Jason Spezza nowhere to be seen, Karlsson provides the Senators best chance to get out of the funk they are in and qualify for the playoffs.
It would be easy for the Senators to sit back and think that Karlsson will be the saviour, judging by the media and fan attention news of his potential return from surgery to repair his partially torn Achilles tendon has stirred up.
However, the team needs to be prepared for the fact that he might not be the Erik Karlsson of Feb 12th and might need a couple of games to get fully into synch. Hopefully the play of the rest of the team helps him get enough time and reps to get to full speed.
While the Senators have 3 games left and control their own destiny, there is one week left before the playoffs, and not a lot of time to get back into the groove. When Karlsson gets back into the lineup is not yet confirmed. Hopes are that a Thursday return in Washington is in the cards as the Senators could be sitting on the outside looking in, depending on what happens between the Capitals and Jets Tuesday night.
In a perfect scenario, Karlsson declares himself fit to play in Washington and at the very least get the Senators’ power play on track. The Senators not only want to qualify for the playoffs, but really want to avoid the Penguins in the first round, which means having a better record than either the Rangers or the Islanders over the next three games.
But first things first, and with a little luck Washington will help them out with a win Tuesday and a loss Thursday.
And the biggest factor to making that happen for Ottawa will be to ensure that they step up their game when (and if) Karlsson returns, and not sit back and expect him to carry the team on his back.