Skip to content

Sens’ Karlsson not close to pre-injury form, says coach

May 16, 2013, 1:10 PM EDT

Erik Karlsson Getty Images

Even though he’s averaging a point per game and nearly 27 minutes a night in the playoffs, Erik Karlsson isn’t the same player he was prior to suffering a lacerated Achilles.

Just ask his coach.

“I don’t think he’s close to what he was before he got injured,” Paul MacLean told the Ottawa Citizen. “He was a dominant, dominant player, possibly the best player in the league at the time of his injury.

“Our expectation wasn’t that [his play] would be at that level.”

This is likely a case of coach protecting player.

In Game 1 of Ottawa’s Eastern Conference semifinal against Pittsburgh, Karlsson looked a step slow and somewhat hesitant during one of his poorer postseason efforts.

The reigning Norris winner didn’t look especially good making a questionable pinch (also laboring to recover) on Pascal Dupuis‘ goal:

That said, MacLean knew getting Karlsson back so quickly after such a serious injury would result in adjusted expecations.

“Our expectation is that Erik is going to make us a better team because of his abilities to move the puck and help us on the power play, to quarterback that,” MacLean explained.

“Our expectation isn’t that he’s the Norris Trophy-[winning] Erik Karlsson. We just want him to come out and play and help our team win, and let his teammates help him.”

  1. bgrillz - May 16, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Great player..best player in the league is quite a stretch though…

    • travishenryskid - May 16, 2013 at 1:52 PM

      Disagree. The way he was going, he was definitely rivaling Crosby as the top player. I’m not a Sens fan, but the guy was contorting the play in an almost Bobby Orr-ish manner at the start of the season. Very unfortunate that he ran into Sirhan Sirhan.

      • rpiotr01 - May 16, 2013 at 2:10 PM

        I don’t agree with you at all, but that’s a big thumbs up for the Sirhan Sirhan reference.

    • travishenryskid - May 16, 2013 at 1:54 PM

      *controlling the play

    • jpelle82 - May 16, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      mclean says “possibly” which leaves it up to interpretation or debate. laviolette basically crowned giroux and we see how that worked out for him.

      • laxman1944 - May 16, 2013 at 4:32 PM

        Oh yeah I remember….you had mentioned Lavvy was sniffing up his skirt…..

  2. sens101 - May 16, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    I think he should say most unique player in the league….in that nobody can do what karlsson can do, especially for a dman…I go to a lot of games at SBP and watch a lot of hockey on tv, and I’ve never watched a dman, or player for that matter wheel the way Karlsson does. As soon as a player tried to chase him, they got burned. Such an amazing skater. Hoping he can get back to where he was pre-injury. Anyways, you be the judge, if you were starting and NHL team tomorrow, who would you build your team around…Obviously you have Crosby, Malkin, Lundqvist. I place Karlsson 4th ahead of Giroux and Stamkos. Only because of the poor year Giroux had and the fact that Stamkos is still too one-dimensional

  3. sens101 - May 16, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    have to give Toews honorable mention as well

  4. myroncopesflask - May 16, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Healthy Letang>Healthy Karlsson… Both are PPG D-men but Letang can actually play defense. 1975

    • sens101 - May 16, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      lol i like that healthy letang>karlsson…maybe in this moment while karlsson is not at full health, but if he is, I dont think there is any doubt that karlsson is better.

      I’m sure you’ll point to my bias but it’s not even close….your comparing a dman who on the pp has malkin, crosby, neal, kunitz, and iggy to finish for him when he passes the puck…to one who has, if hes lucky, spezza, michalek and a 40 year old alfie. kalrsson makes everyone around him better, while letang is the benifactor of playing with a lot of great players.

      People think karlsson is bad defensively because he doesnt throw his weight around but he is actually pretty good, especially smart with his stick

      • myroncopesflask - May 16, 2013 at 3:07 PM

        I have seen enough of karlsson when he is healthy… Last year when he won the Norris he looked silly against the Pens. How Karlsson gets a much larger % of his points on the PP than letang does. Last year before he got hurt letang was leading the league in scoring not just D-men. karlsson is very good and has about 4 more years before he learns how to play D the right way but right now if both are healthy I would prefer an offensive d-man that can play defense first.

      • f2maestro - May 16, 2013 at 3:15 PM

        I think you’re putting Karlsson on a much higher level than he actually is. He is more or less Letang in a different uniform. Both of their games revolve around skating, both have accurate, hard shots, both play solid D, both have outstanding offensive awareness and both can pass the puck accurately. There aren’t any glaring differences in my mind to make Karlsson or Letang better than the other. The only advantage I think Karlsson has on Letang long-term is his age (22 vs 26). I believe Karlsson could develop into a superior player someday, but it’s level now (in my opinion).

        As for the best player in the league comment? That’s a stretch…

      • jpelle82 - May 16, 2013 at 3:35 PM

        karlsson has some time to get better defensively, until he does he’s not better than letang yet. neither are a nik lidstrom thats for sure

      • sens101 - May 16, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        Hey myroncopesflask
        are you talking about that game, where he was a plus three with three assits against the pens last year? He arguably had one bad game and that was an 8-4 victory ottawa had over pittsburgh where he was a -2 somehow with one assist.

        But over the season series he finished plus three with 4 assits in three games averaging close to 30 min a game where as letang finished a plus one with one assist in two….these stats seem useless right?

        Thats because you cant judge a player on a handful of games. I’m not even debating that letang isn’t good, i just think if you put him in an ottawa uniform instead of karlsson, without as much natural skill, he wont be doing anything close to what he is for the pens right now.

      • jpelle82 - May 16, 2013 at 4:36 PM

        and vice versa, i dont think karlsson brings anything to the pens that they dont get with letang already. its subjective at that point, matter of opinion. i like letang better because he doesnt weigh 175lbs soaking wet (karlsson) and he can hit and take your best guy one on one in the corners. if karlsson hits the weight room and works on his stick work he could probably be right there with letang in a few years, he is still just 22, but right now, i would take letang if given the choice.

    • marik0502 - May 16, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      Dude was the 1975 reference even necessary? They aren’t even playing the flyers and yet you still use it. Why some of you penguins fans just idiots?

      • laxman1944 - May 16, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        Don’t fret him he’s just an a$$hole trying to get a rise out…….it’s kind of funny how he continues to post it.

    • marik0502 - May 16, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      Dude was the 1975 reference even necessary? They aren’t even playing the flyers and yet you still use it. Why are some of you penguins fans just idiots?

    • laxman1944 - May 16, 2013 at 4:28 PM

      Dude put down your flask…….seriously it’s insulting.

      Before he went down to injury he was the best player on the ice night in and out.

      • handsofsweed - May 16, 2013 at 6:05 PM

        You bet, lax. Getting his jaw destroyed by that deflected puck cost Crosby a 20+ point win in the scoring title race. Sid has had some odd bad luck with injuries and the lockout, or else we’d be looking back at 3 straight 130+ point seasons and counting. Averaging 1.6 ppg per year is so far ahead of anyone else that he can’t even see the pack in the rear-view. Appreciate your unbiased respect of Crosby. Also, I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if your boy Giroux posts 100+ pts next year.

  5. myroncopesflask - May 16, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Sorry I actually forgot to add 1975 to end of my reply to the last post. 1975 will remain as my close until the Flyers win the last game played of any given year. it obviously will not be this year so you can count on seeing it til at least next June. prob will be another 5 years or more but maybe next June… right? 1975

  6. andrewproughcfe - May 16, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    As a Pens fan, I’m wishing Karlsson well in the series, and I’m thinking the league should have suspended Cooke for the entirety of Karlsson’s injury. No room for that kind of reckless, dangerous play on the ice.

  7. travishenryskid - May 16, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    These people putting Letang in the same class as Karlsson are hilarious homers.

    • jpelle82 - May 16, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      you must not watch letang. just as good offensively, can skate with karlsson all day – difference is letang is bigger stronger and can play defense.

  8. sens101 - May 16, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    Don Cherry showed Cooke lifting up his foot again when he was going hit Karlsson in the first period on tuesday night…while i dont think he did it on purpose? why does he lift up his foot when hes throwing a body check? ive never seen that before and the fact that he seriously hurt someone should mean he should try to correct it. Alas, the past is the past, while i would still like to see Neil give Cooke a beating because he is a little bit#$, i would rather ottawa beat pittsburgh and look him in the eye while shaking hands

  9. sens101 - May 16, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    was meant to say that i dont think he did it on purpose…

  10. valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 16, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    “This is likely a case of coach protecting player.” Well said. He’s moving the puck well, but looked pretty bad on the pinch that led to ??? I believe it was Dupuis’ goal.

  11. benrob99 - May 16, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    MacLean ended the press conference by catching fish thrown to him from a bucket, and by having a trainer rub his tummy.

  12. malkinrulez - May 16, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    Best player in the league is a stretch but not by much. Any team would be thrilled to have Karlsson , great offensive dman. In time his game will round out, gonna be fun to watch him progress.

  13. benrob99 - May 16, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    Karlsson is a VERY good player. I, however, would not trade Letang straight up for Karlsson.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches