Karlsson adjusts to complementary role
Sharks defenceman blending in as he rediscovers offensive touch after slow start out west
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