Erik Karlsson is just as aggravated with the bumpy start for the Ottawa Senators as the fanbase, it would seem. He had some pointed remarks for a group of reporters after a players-only meeting and a practice this morning. Senators Extra quoted the electric defenseman, and he had the following to say about the expectations that he has felt early on this year:
You guys talked about me like I’m some (effing) god or something. It’s not easy to live up to that. I had a great season (2011-12), and I’m going to have to live with that. It’s something I try not to focus on, try not to compare myself to. I just want this team to win more games . . . even if I don’t win the Norris Trophy.
It’s easy to forget that Karlsson was only a 21 year-old when he won his Norris following his remarkable 2011-12. After missing a majority of last season after having his Achilles tendon partially severed (worst phrase to type, ever), he had even more positive press heaped on him for returning early and gutting through several playoff games.
Now the Senators are struggling a bit early on, and at 4-5-2 seem to be at a crossroads. They’re sixth in their division and have had a hard time hanging with the stronger teams in the Western Conference. The Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks have all handed the Sens losses. They’ve lost to the Sharks and Ducks twice already, and those teams are good measuring sticks as far as Stanley Cup contenders go.
It’s tough to pin Ottawa’s struggles on Karlsson though. He’s on pace for 75 points right now and has only been held pointless in two consecutive games once this season. Almost no one in the NHL plays more than the smooth-skating defender. Karlsson averages more than 27 minutes a game, which is incredible considering how quick he is to jump up on the play.
That is to say, he isn’t all about energy preservation.
This could be a classic case of reading your own press, both positive and negative. The Sens need to put their heads down and plow through the early rough start. Shutout everything that everyone has to say and just win some hockey games. The talent is there for this to be a playoff team. They just need some unison and a string of strong games.