BOSTON — Erik Karlsson is recovering from his groin injury a lot more quickly this time around.
Karlsson expects to rejoin the Sharks lineup on Tuesday for the team’s tilt with the Boston Bruins after missing Sunday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. The two-time Norris Trophy winner sat out of Sunday’s bout after he re-aggravated a groin injury that recently sidelined him for nine games in Columbus on Saturday. The re-tweak also forced him to miss the last 33:04 of Saturday’s game against the Blue Jackets.
The Sharks defenseman expressed confidence that he isn’t risking a longterm injury by returning for Tuesday’s game in Boston.
“As of right now, we don’t feel like that’s the case,” Karlsson said. “I feel good, so hopefully I just keep feeling better and better.”
Karlsson’s swift return is the latest twist in an unpredictable saga that started as a day-to-day injury and included an appearance in the All-Star Game before morphing into an ailment that kept him out of the lineup for a full month. After Karlsson rejoined the team for four games on Feb. 16, his latest setback triggered concerns that the injury could put him on the shelf for a large chunk of the stretch drive.
But Karlsson insists that the issue that plagued him in Columbus was a minor setback.
“That was just a fluke incident, I think; unnatural situation, not something I could have done myself,” Karlsson said. “I didn’t continue because we didn’t know how I was going to react. I woke up the next day and I was fine. I probably could have played in Detroit, but we decided not to. That was a good first sign.”
As Karlsson prepares to make his return, Marcus Sorensen will miss his second straight game with an apparent head injury, the result of taking a puck to the face in Columbus on Saturday. Barclay Goodrow missed the Sharks morning skate in Boston on Tuesday to nurse a lower-body injury, but head coach Pete DeBoer expects him to play against the Bruins.
2. Karlsson didn’t need to hold up a sign featuring Gus Nyquist’s name when he picked his Swedish country-mate up at the airport in Boston on Monday. The newest Shark is quite familiar with Karlsson’s face.
In what is becoming a trade deadline tradition in Sharks territory, Karlsson welcomed Nyquist when he arrived to join the Sharks for the final game of their four-game road swing through the Eastern Conference, following the example that Joe Thornton set last year when he picked up Evander Kane at the Oakland airport in the aftermath of the power forward’s trade to San Jose. Afterward, Nyquist and Karlsson eat dinner together in Boston’s north end.
“No Nyquist sign,” the Sharks newest addition joked. “We went out to some Italian place.”
Nyquist and Karlsson go back quite a ways. They played together on the Swedish Olympic team at the 2014 Sochi Games and traveled on golf trips together, sharing common friends among the Swedish cohort of Nyquist’s former-team, the Detroit Red Wings.
Knowing what it’s like to be traded for the first time, Karlsson wanted to help give his new teammate a smooth transition to the club.
“He’s only been in Detroit, so he doesn’t know too many guys on this team, personally, other than me,” Karlsson said. “I felt like it was the right thing to do.”
But Nyquist is joining the Sharks under drastically different circumstances than Karlsson, who shed tears in his farewell press conference in Ottawa. Nyquist, in contrast, waived his no-trade clause for the specific purpose of joining the Sharks to make a run at the Stanley Cup. It wasn’t a concession the pending-unrestricted free agent would have necessarily made for other teams. It also helped Doug Wilson gain the leverage in negotiations to acquire him at a bargain basement price for a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 conditional third-round pick.
“There’s no secret that I had a no-trade clause and had to waive that,” Nyquist said. “There was no question about whether I was going to waive it or not for this team. Once I found out that they were interested, it was an easy decision for me. I’m excited to be here.”
3. Nyquist will be welcomed by another Hall of Fame-caliber player when he takes the ice in Boston on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old will be skating on the Sharks third line with Thornton and Kevin Labanc, giving the Sharks a potential-matchup edge in the depth of the lineup.
“It’s not bad,” Nyquist joked when asked about skating on a line with Thornton. “He’s been a great player in this league for a long, long time. It’ll be a lot of fun.”
On the morning of opening day, DeBoer said he wanted a third line that could give the Sharks matchup edges similar to what the Pittsburgh Penguins received from the vaunted “HBK” line with Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin during their runs to the Cup in 2016 and 2017. With Nyquist’s addition, the Sharks roster will boast dynamic duos on each of their top three lines, creating a dynamic similar to the Penguins three-headed monster with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kessel.
The Sharks first line will feature Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture with Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl on the second line and the Thornton-Nyquist combination on the third line.
With DeBoer, the Sharks lines are always fluid, so the dynamic could change down the road. At this point, it’s unclear where Sorensen will play once he rejoins the lineup.
“It’s all about depth,” DeBoer said. “The playoff road, if you want to go on any deep run, you’re going to need depth. The teams that get there are fortunate with their health or they have depth. I know he’s going to help us. I don’t know what he’s going to add offensively, defensively. I just know he’s a very-good NHL player that we’re going to be able to use.”