From the drop of the puck on Monday, Erik Karlsson just looked different.
So late in the first period, I put my money where my mouth is:
Putting it out there just to put it on record, feel free to tell me I'm wrong later, but Karlsson looks very spry tonight
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) March 2, 2021
Betting on Karlsson hasn’t been profitable for anybody, especially the San Jose Sharks, for a long time. But he paid out finally, with a power play goal in a 6-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
So has the two-time Norris Trophy winner found his long-lost form?
He’ll need to play like this more than one night. He flashed a similar turn-back-the-clock performance in St. Louis in January, but that proved to be a false spring.
It’s good to know, however, that he’s still got it – unlike, say, his defensive partner to begin the game.
Speaking of, it felt like Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s last stand on Monday night. At times this season, it seemed like Karlsson was hobbling to the same place, a once-great gunfighter fighting younger, quicker gunslingers, or in this case, ankle surgery in 2017 and groin surgery in 2019.
“This is where I stand on the road,” Karlsson asserted, when asked about recent groin problems that made him miss two weeks. “It’s just putting it all on the line all the time. If I break, I break, it’s nothing I can do about it. I put in the time to make sure that I’m as prepared and strong as possible. Stuff like that, you can’t really control, so it’s not something that I worry about at all.
“You gotta try and give it your all. Realize that I worked really hard to get to where I am, I’m at the top of the level right now. So there’s no holding back.”
All that said, it wasn’t a master performance from Karlsson by any means. I re-watched every 5-on-5 Karlsson shift and found good, bad, and ugly.
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