Swedish Miracle Cure: Sens' Karlsson Says He's Mended
Amazing athletes do amazing things come playoff time.
But defying Mother Nature is rarely one of them.
Senators defenseman Eric Karlsson is on the throes of completing what can only be called an astounding recovery by declaring himself all but ready for a return to the ice after a devastating Achilles tendon injury on 13 February. It was all but a given that the current Norris Trophy holder was done for the season. And with his exit from play, it seemed all but certain that Ottawa would be on the outside looking in when the playoff brackets solidified.
The 22-year-old Swede is that important to the Senators' fate.
Ottawa is clinging to a playoff position in the East:
|7||Ottawa||52||23||Capitals, Flyers, Bruins|
|8||NY Rangers||52||24||Hurricanes, Devils|
|(*Note: Home games; Road games)|
Two of the Sens' games are against teams who already know where they'll be in a week. Washington is secure in the third seed, and Philadelphia is already planning for next season. Boston is vying with Montréal for the Northeast title and the second seeding that accompanies it. Ottawa needs two points and they're in; they've got to like their chances, but nothing is easy in April.
Karlsson's return wouldn't yet be on a scale of a Willis Reed or Kirk Gibson, but it could be argued that Karlsson's task will be much more essential for his team. He's not needed for just one moment in time; his presence and requisite skills are required for two stages of competition: qualifying for the playoffs and then the Cup chase itself. Tall order, even when totally healthy.
And that's the next question. Is Karlsson totally healthy? Is he risking what looks to be a stellar future?
For Karlsson, it's a rhetorical exercise. His team needs him now, so he's going to play now. He'll be wearing a pair of cut-resistance socks and Coach Paul MacLean has already announced he'll be reunited with his blueline partner, Marc Methot. The stage is set.
If the Sens do get into the playoffs, it's still quite possible their first-round opponent would be the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team with villain slice-and-dicer Matt Cooke on the payroll. Now, that would be an intriguing sub-plot!
But first things first, and that's Karlsson stepping on the ice in competition. That's a compelling sub-plot right now. And not just in the hockey world.
Medical experts everywhere will be studying this one for a long time. Incredible.