Karls­son ad­justs to com­ple­men­tary role

Sharks de­fence­man blend­ing in as he re­dis­cov­ers of­fen­sive touch af­ter slow start out west

The Province - - SPORTS - KEN WAR­REN kwar­[email protected]­media.com Twit­ter.com/Ci­ti­zenkwar­ren

SAN JOSE — On the ice, Erik Karls­son has re­dis­cov­ered the point-scor­ing magic that had dis­ap­peared for his first cou­ple of months in Cal­i­for­nia.

Off the ice, his sig­na­ture flow and the trade­mark, finely man­i­cured pi­rate mous­tache re­main in­tact.

Ot­tawa still may be his off-sea­son home, but he has found his place in the San Jose Sharks’ loaded lineup.

“It takes a while,” the for­mer Sen­a­tors cap­tain and two-time Nor­ris Tro­phy win­ner said, tak­ing his time be­fore ad­dress­ing the me­dia late Satur­day af­ter the Sharks’ 4-1 win over the Sen­a­tors.

“There are a lot of things that you have to get ac­cus­tomed to and I think it’s be­com­ing eas­ier and eas­ier. I wake up ev­ery day and have more of a rou­tine. I don’t have to worry about too many things.”

In­deed, it’s dif­fer­ent world for Karls­son. The age­less won­der, Joe Thorn­ton, is the cap­tain of a Sharks team over­loaded with tal­ent and ex­pe­ri­ence. The other Joe — Pavel­ski — leads with his points and his poise. Lo­gan Cou­ture, the long-ago star of the Ot­tawa 67’s, is as steady and solid as just about any two-way for­ward in the NHL.

And then there’s the big air sur­round­ing the big-bearded Brent Burns, who, as it hap­pens, was hon­oured for play­ing his 1,000th game be­fore the puck dropped against the Sen­a­tors.

If any­thing and ev­ery­thing first passed through Karls­son in Ot­tawa, that’s cer­tainly not the case in Sil­i­con Val­ley.

“I know how ev­ery­thing works and that has been a big re­lief,” said Karls­son, who is now a voice in the back­ground, no longer the go-to guy for re­porters want­ing ex­pla­na­tions for the Sharks’ suc­cesses or fail­ures.

“The guys in here have done a good job in not mak­ing me do any­thing I don’t want to and rush­ing me. They’ve been very pa­tient and we’ve been play­ing bet­ter as a team.”

That’s a colos­sal un­der­state­ment. The Sharks are now feast­ing on the rest of the NHL, cur­rently rid­ing a sixgame win­ning streak, chal­leng­ing the Cal­gary Flames at the top of the ul­tra­com­pet­i­tive Pa­cific Divi­sion. While the Sen­a­tors held Karls­son off the score­sheet Satur­day, for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game, the for­mer Sen­a­tors cap­tain saw his fran­chise-record 14-game point scor­ing streak come to an end ear­lier in the week. He had scored one goal and 24 as­sists dur­ing that span, climb­ing back to his fa­mil­iar spot among the top scor­ing de­fence­men in the NHL.

Sharks de­fence­man Erik Karls­son is start­ing to find his com­fort zone af­ter a slow start fol­low­ing his trade from Ot­tawa prior to the start of the sea­son. — THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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