Apparently Erik Karlsson is having a below par year. Nonsense, he has adapted to the system while retaining phenomenal point production.
Captain-Fantastic Erik Karlsson is Mr.Senators and rightly so. With great power comes great responsibility (as any comic book will tell you). It is the responsibility part that Karlsson has been made to work on this year under Head Coach Guy Boucher.
It is the natural workings of a hockey match that if you are focusing on defence it is difficult to post a team leading point production. Karlsson has, and for me it has been one of his better years. Fans want to see flamboyant offensive play, after all that’s what they pay their hard earned dollars for. However, in order for a team to win they must be solid from the goaltender outwards.
One of the main reasons that the Ottawa Senators are sitting pretty in the Atlantic division and are almost certain to make an encouraging return to the post-season, is Erik Karlsson. Of course, he has been at the center of any Ottawa-based success but now more than ever is he vital.
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Bear in mind he has 47 points in 55 games. Slightly down on goals with nine, but helping his team with an eye-popping 38 assists. The point being that, he may be leading less breakouts but he is still aiding and leading this team.
There have been so many passes that Karlsson has made this season that have led to goals. However, it was his pass to Kyle Turris against the Columbus Blue Jackets that sticks in my mind as the change in his game. Threading the eye of a needle with a pinpoint pass comfortably behind his own blue-line. Turris picks the pass on the attacking blue-line already ahead of the back tracking defensemen.
Karlsson is a great player and captain but clearly needed some assistance. The acquisition of Dion Phaneuf added another experienced voice to the locker room and more defensive stability. With Karlsson now defending more instead of leaving his post. The Senators look like a team that could defend in the playoffs. We all know that defence is key to winning in the post-season.