Sharks fans may have been frustrated that Erik Karlsson was sidelined with an unspecified injury. But nobody has been more frustrated with it than Karlsson himself.
The two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman was a full participant in Sharks’ morning skate on Wednesday. Afterward, he told the media the wait to get back out there hasn’t been easy.
“I think no matter what, you always have that itch when you’re out,” he said. “It’s one of the worst feelings you could have.”
No. 65, who has missed eight games dating back to a January 19 contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning, said he hadn’t skated since the team went on the road last week, but was working off the ice as he recovered. In his return to practice on Wednesday, he was paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic and filed onto the first power-play unit.
“It’s nice to finally practice with the guys,” he said. “It’s been a long couple of weeks.”
Karlsson wouldn’t specify what the injury was – Sharks’ coach Peter DeBoer offered up some specifics in a radio interview earlier that morning – but did say it’s an ailment he hasn’t dealt with in the past.
“Kind of a weird thing and something I haven’t dealt with before,” he admitted. “I didn’t really know how to approach it. Luckily, we have a great team around here and great people around here who know how to deal with it the best possible way.”
Although being sidelined has been difficult, Karlsson said there are some upsides to getting the time to rest and recuperate at this time during the season.
“Rest is a privilege, even though it’s not fun it also comes with a few benefits,” he said. “Hopefully my body’s going to feel better now than it normally would have at this time of year if I would’ve been playing all those games.”
It doesn’t hurt, either, that the Sharks have played well while Karlsson has been sidelined. They’ve gone 6-2-0 over that eight-game span, with all six of those wins occurring in a row. Watching the team do so well, particularly on a tough road trip through Western Canada, has helped Karlsson feel like he hasn’t had to rush his recovery process.
“I’ve watched every bit of it and it’s fun to see,” he said. “It actually does make it a little bit easier when the guys are doing well and winning games. It makes you feel like you don’t have to rush things and force things, which has been kind of nice.”
Karlsson is still considered day-to-day and hasn’t been given the go-ahead yet to return to the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Washington Capitals. He remains hopeful, however, that he’ll make a return soon.
“Today was a step in the right direction,” he summarized. “Hopefully I can take another one tomorrow."