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Karlsson Leaves Sharks Practice Early; Strikes Defiant Tone About PK Usage



Erik Karlsson spoke to the media for the first time since he pulled himself out of Saturday’s home opener against the Vegas Golden Knights.

“It’s something that’s been lingering for a while. Unfortunately, against Vegas, it progressively got worse toward the second period. Start of the third, it wasn’t really operating the way that I thought was beneficial for the team,” Karlsson said about what was termed a day-to-day lower-body injury then. “That’s why I decided to step away, which is never easy to do. Hopefully, it’s not going to be something that’s going to stick with me.”

Karlsson did not clarify when he first suffered this injury. He’s had, of course, a history of lower-body injuries, be it a season-ending Achilles tendon laceration in 2013, left ankle surgery in 2017, and groin surgery in 2019.

“It’s not something that’s from any previous one.  It’s just one of those that most guys get at some point throughout a season,” Karlsson offered. “Unfortunately, it just wouldn’t let me do what I deem being necessary to help the team.”

So when will Karlsson be able to help the San Jose Sharks again? He practiced this morning at SAP Center, in hopes that he’ll be ready for tomorrow night’s game in St. Louis.

“I’ll have more read on that after,” Bob Boughner said before practice.

Karlsson, however, didn’t finish practice. He skated for about 20 minutes, had brief conversations with assistant Rocky Thompson and Boughner, then left the hour-long practice. His departure left the San Jose Sharks short-handed on defense, as Brent Burns also didn’t participate in practice in what presumably was a maintenance day for him. Forward Stefan Noesen stepped up in Karlsson’s place.

My guess? Karlsson doesn’t play tomorrow, but we’ll see.

After practice, Tomas Hertl was asked how Karlsson looked at practice.

“He looks like normal,” Hertl shared.

Then, however, the gregarious Czech star added, maybe inadvertently divulging the nature of Karlsson’s lower-body ailment: “It’s not great, the groin stuff. You need it for the skating part all the time. Sometimes, you have to step back because you don’t want to pull it more. If it’s nothing that serious, hopefully he can play because we need everybody right now.”

It’s unclear if Hertl was talking about the current injury or Karlsson’s overall recovery from his 2019 groin surgery.

Stay tuned tomorrow for another episode of “As Erik Karlsson Turns.”

EK65 Loves PK

Karlsson took a defiant tone when asked, when he returns to action, if he’d be okay with being removed from the penalty kill. He drew fire on Saturday for being on the ice for three power play goals against.

“No. Penalty kill is one of the most enjoyable things to play out there. Even though you don’t necessarily play with the puck, it’s something I’ve always enjoyed,” Karlsson said pointedly. “It’s something that I think I’m good at. It’s a part of the strength of my game, whether you guys like that or not, or see that.

“I’ve been killing for a long time in this league. I’m expecting to do so until the day that I’m done.”

Karlsson has averaged 2:51 Per Game on the PK, leading all San Jose Sharks defensemen. The last time that he averaged under a minute a game on the kill was 2014-15.

Boughner, however, might have different ideas. He seemed receptive to the notion of other defensemen besides Karlsson soaking up more PK minutes.

“Moving forward, I think we need other guys to step into the penalty-killing role and eat some minutes. Maybe guys like Karlsson, who are going to play heavier minutes, they get more even strength and power play minutes,” Boughner said. “[Knyzhov] has improved every game. [Simek] can get more kill. Obviously Burnzie and Mario. That’s the way we’re trending for sure.”

For what it’s worth, Boughner spoke before Karlsson today, and both before Karlsson’s short practice. This is a conversation to come back to when Karlsson (and Radim Simek) return to play.

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