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Karlsson and the Senators Will Be Ready for the Playoffs

USATSI_9993122_154158418_lowresOttawa Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson may be sitting out for the final two games of the regular season, but general manager Pierre Dorion says his guy will be ready when the puck drops on the post-season.

Karlsson will sit out a total of three games altogether, as he injured his right foot on Tuesday and will miss action on Saturday and Sunday.

Ottawa clinched its playoff berth on Thursday with a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. They’re second in the Atlantic Division with a 43-27-10 record and look set to lock in against either the Bruins or maybe even the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs. Imagine that scenario.

The Senators will face the New York Rangers on Saturday and will visit Long Island on Sunday.

Karlsson has been instrumental in guiding Ottawa back to the post-season, leading the team in points with 71 in 77 games. He’s second among NHL defencemen in scoring, too, with Brent Burns edging him out with 75 points.

Karlsson has 27 points in his last 25 games and has adjusted well to coach Guy Boucher’s system, which has led to more defensive responsibility. The blueliner is second in the NHL with 201 blocked shots, a jump from his 175 blocked shots last season.

Karlsson has been a critical part of a roster that was largely a holdover from last season, when the Senators missed the post-season and had to pick up the pieces. Boucher was a new addition on May 8, while Dorion traded Mika Zibanejad away in July.

But the team held fast through all kinds of diversity, including a long-term injury to Clarke MacArthur and the heartrending situation involving Craig Anderson and his wife Nicholle, a cancer diagnosis that reminds us all that there are more important things than hockey.

Anderson played just one game between November and February 10, with Mike Condon proving a capable reliever in the meantime. The goalie was 14-8-5 during that time, with only five NHL goalies posting more wins during the span. Condon, for all intents and purposes, held the Senators in it when it mattered most.

And Anderson, meanwhile, has been incredible since his return. He’s 12-5-3 with a .928 save percentage and a 2.17 goals against average.

The Senators are in the playoffs because they’ve managed to play resilient, gutsy hockey. That’s the same kind of hockey that could make them a formidable threat when the puck drops on the post-season. And that’s the same kind of hockey that’ll have the Bruins or Maple Leafs making sure they’re ready for a tough opponent in the first round.

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