The Ottawa Senators were dealt a huge blow on Wednesday evening when they lost their best defenceman Erik Karlsson after an awkward collision in the corner with Matt Cooke in a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Senators are now without two of their best players in Karlsson and Jason Spezza, but the loss of their Norris Winning defenceman and arguably the best defenceman in the game right now will be extremely difficult to overcome.
Cooke’s skate lacerated Erik Karlsson’s achilles which will result in the defenceman undergoing season-ending surgery. Was the “stomp” intentional or accidental? The NHL saw it as un-intentional as Cooke will not be suspended. In my opinion it was a routine hockey play that went horribly wrong, Cooke was just trying to keep his balance and his foot came down on the back of Karlsson’s leg – complete accident with horrific results. Now before you freak out over saying Cooke did it on purpose, ask yourself this- If this was anyone other than Matt Cooke would you be calling this an accident or intentional?
Whether you believe it was a clean play or not, it’s a huge blow to the Senators who were having a very good start to the year. Now with both Karlsson and Spezza out of the lineup they have some big shoes to fill in order salvage the season. Which Senators will step up in Erik Karlsson’s absence and help lead the team?
There’s a reason Alfredsson where’s the “C” on his jersey, he’s expected to lead the Ottawa Senators. What better time to lead this young Senators team than when two of their best players are hurt? Alfredsson has always been a solid leader for the Sens, often rallying them in close games, scoring the key goal. Right now he’s 3rd on the team in scoring with 8 points, but he’ll need to pick up that pace without the scoring of Spezza and Karlsson. In what may be Alfredsson’s last season this is the perfect chance for him to go out as a hero, come in and rescue the team when their two key players go down and help guide them to the playoffs one last time.
The Senators have never needed their captain more then they do right now, everything they know and count on is falling apart they need their captain to step up and fill the gap for the season or until they can get reinforcements. Over the next few months we will see the true leadership skills of Daniel Alfredsson.
Turris all but gave up during his time with the Phoenix Coyotes demanding out as he no longer felt he could develop further. He got his wish when the Ottawa Senators came to his rescue and brought him in to play with Jason Spezza. Turris enjoyed playing on a line with the skilled Spezza and reaped the benefits by putting up 29 points. But now without his linemate Turris needs to start making his own luck and help the Senators who helped him out of Pheonix.
“I’ve got to come through with creating more opportunities for myself and my linemates and be more offensively productive.” ~ Kyle Turris
With Spezza out, Turris will be called upon to take up the offence that is missing. After being dubbed as a “draft bust” it’s time for Turris to put all his skills together and produce like the Senators are expecting him to. Turris currently leads the team with 11 points and will need to keep up his strong play and help elevate the game of his teammates if the Senators have any hope of persevering through the injuries.
As good as Anderson has been to start off the year he now has to be even better. With Karlsson going down (who was leading the team in goals) and Spezza one of the best natural goal scorers on the shelf, goals will be hard to come by for the Senators which means Anderson needs to be near perfect. Posting a .949 Save Percentage and 1.58 Goals Against Average with 7 wins through 12 games, Anderson has been one of the best goalies to start off the year. He’ll need to keep standing on his head and shutting down the opposition as the Senators may find themselves in a lot of 1 goal games.
With their best defenceman, and future captain out indefinitely, things are not about to get any easier for the Ottawa Senators who need to buckle down and grind out some tough wins. Daniel Alfredsson, Kyle Turris and Craig Anderson will all need to bring their “A” game to lead the Senators through the rest of the season without Erik Karlsson.