Though it looked earlier this season like Brent Burns had locked up the Norris trophy by Christmas, Erik Karlsson has been pushing to make sure voters don’t forget about him. Mentioned by both Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet and Travis Yost of TSN today in their latest columns, people have noticed that Karlsson is now just eight points behind Burns and ready to burst into the NHL’s top-10 sooner or later. The defenseman is having another unbelievable season offensively but as Friedman notes, is also doing something else better.
Karlsson leads the NHL in blocked shots this season by a wide margin, easily outpacing his own career-high from last season. Though he may not be producing at quite the same rate offensively—though 62 points in 67 games shouldn’t be shrugged off—his defensive ability has seemingly improved once again. Blocked shots aren’t a very stable result, and shouldn’t simply be taken as evidence of an improved defensive game. But when combined with an increased +/- rating, decreased rate of minor penalties, and increased short-handed play, even the most “old-school” hockey fan should appreciate his defensive improvements.
- Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris will both return to the lineup tonight, giving Ottawa a nice boost to their top-six after several weeks with uncertainty at the top. Ryan has been out since February 18th with a broken finger, and is having the worst season of his career. With five more seasons on his contract at $7.25MM per year, the Senators need him to turn things around as quickly as possible. Ryan will turn 30 on Friday, and has just 12 goals this season. If he doesn’t produce down the stretch, the Senators might even decide to leave him exposed and hope Vegas takes him off their hands in the expansion draft.
- After Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported that Craig Anderson wasn’t on the ice at this morning’s practice, thoughts immediately turned to his personal problems that have taken him away from the team several times this season. Turns out, it’s just a lower-body injury for Anderson who will be replaced by Chris Driedger tonight on the bench behind Mike Condon. There is no timetable on Anderson’s return as Garrioch reports, after head coach Guy Boucher said the team would be “checking it out further” later.