SAN JOSE – Patience isn’t something sports fans are known for, especially when it comes to wanting to see a star player go on a scoring streak. Such was the case for many Sharks fans when Erik Karlsson got to San Jose at the start of the 2018-19 season and he didn’t light the lamp in his very first game sporting a teal sweater.
But anyone who was willing to wait is being rewarded at the halfway point of the season. Karlsson has found his groove, and has cemented his place as a difference-maker on this Sharks roster during his December tear.
He’s not just achieving individual success – he’s developed into a catalyst for San Jose.
“He’s really established his game in our structure,” captain Joe Pavelski said Tuesday after the Sharks’ 7-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers, their fourth win in a row since the start of 2019. “Everybody feels pretty comfortable playing with him because he makes those plays and he makes that outlet pass and he’s got that speed to come out of our end with it. He’s been a big piece to our success lately.”
Karlsson’s body of work thus far speaks for itself. He has scored 25 points over a 14-game span, becoming just the fifth defenseman in NHL history to record at least one assist in 14 consecutive appearances. In Tuesday’s win over the Oilers, he gathered three of those points.
Erik Karlsson is just the 5th blueliner in NHL history to post at least one assist in 14+ straight appearances.— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 9, 2019
The others: Paul Coffey (17 GP in 1985-86), Brian Leetch (15 GP in 1991-92), Phil Housley (14 GP in 1992-93) and Bobby Orr (14 GP in 1970-71). #NHLStats #EDMvsSJS pic.twitter.com/wSqyk8nJlT
Right before everyone’s eyes, Karlsson is moving into special territory not many players do. Nobody knows that better than his teammates, particularly his partner on the blue line.
“I’ve been a lucky guy to get to play with him,” said defenseman Brenden Dillon, who has visibly developed great on-ice chemistry with the two-time Norris Trophy winner. “I think just from off the ice, just getting to know each other more and more, and I think it’s translating onto the ice from practices to games. Just something where we feel like we’re getting better and better together every night.”
It isn’t just the night in, night out contributions Karlsson is making on the ice, either.
“What a lot of people don’t see is how vocal he is on the bench and in the locker room, too,” Sharks assistant coach Steve Spott said. “You can tell why he’s been a captain in Ottawa and brought that leadership here. You can see his game now going to the next level, both offensively and defensively.”
Of course, Karlsson’s game going to that next level surely has Sharks fans even more curious how long he’s going to be with the team – especially talks of a contract extension could reportedly take place after the All-Star break. But until any of that actually comes to, it’s no doubt a blast to watch how well he’s playing.
Especially if it enables the Sharks win more games.
“The way he’s playing, it’s helping us win,” Dillon said. “It’s helping everybody.”