OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators just can’t catch a break.
With the club already plagued by injuries to defenceman Erik Karlsson (Achilles) and forward Jason Spezza (back), the Senators’ misfortune continued Thursday night when goalie Craig Anderson suffered a sprained right ankle against the New York Rangers.
Anderson was injured when Chris Kreider was tripped in front and fell into the unsuspecting netminder. Anderson is listed as day-to-day and GM Bryan Murray doesn’t anticipate Anderson being out more than three or four days.
And that was a relief to Anderson’s teammates.
“Just the way he went down and the way he was having a tough time getting off the ice a few of us were pretty scared,” said defenceman Marc Methot. “With the severity of Karlsson’s injury you just assumed that (Anderson’s) was pretty bad to so we’re glad to see him in good spirits and walking around a bit.”
Robin Lehner was recalled from AHL Binghamton and was on the ice for Friday’s practice.
Karlsson, the Norris Trophy winner last season as the NHL’s top defenceman, spoke Friday for the first time since suffering his season-ending Achilles injury just over a week ago.
Karlsson was hurt when Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke lifted his leg in what appeared to be an attempt to pin Karlsson against the boards. However, his skate blade caught the back of Karlsson’s leg.
“I knew exactly who it was (behind me) so I took a bit of caution,” said Karlsson. “He missed the hit and still got me somehow.
“I think the situation could have been prevented and I don’t think it would have happened if it was a different type of player.”
Karlsson refuses to believe Cooke intentionally cut him but feels Cooke was aiming to get him.
“He’s been after me before,” Karlsson said. “Ever since I got in the league it’s one of the guys I remember always playing against and always being aware of.
“It’s a freak incident, but I still think it’s an injury that shouldn’t have happened.”
Cooke reached out to Karlsson via text but the Senators’ star didn’t respond.
“I received a text, but didn’t think too much of it and didn’t reply,” he said. “I don’t think we have anything to say to each other.”
Karlsson underwent season-ending surgery and doctors are confident the 22-year-old will have a full recovery.
“They said I should have no problems going forth,” said Karlsson. “When I’ll be back I’ll be 100 per cent and hopefully in even better shape than I was before.”
Karlsson was playing exceptionally at the time of his injury and admits having to watch the team from a distance is difficult.
Karlsson is currently wearing a walking boot and said he slept without it for the first time Thursday night. But he has limited mobility and is unable to put any weight on his foot.
Despite the severity of the injury Karlsson remains optimistic and in good spirits.
“It’s tough but at the same time it’s a situation you can’t change,” he said. “I can’t get my head down because of this thing or it’s just going to make me feel even worse.
“I just have to stay positive.”
When Karlsson resumes playing, he anticipates wearing Kevlar socks, which offer additional protection.
“Since this happened to me I’m probably going to do it,” he said. “I think it’s one of those things we’re going to have to keep looking at and try to develop something that will fit everybody.
“I had no intention of ever wearing it before as I don’t think it’s comfortable enough for me and obviously this is going to change how I look on things and maybe more guys are getting their heads up for this kind of thing.”
For now Karlsson is doing his best to stay patient and make the most of his time. He’s looking forward to getting a new dog next week, a Pomeranian, and is enjoying watching golf on television.
“I will do everything I can to try and get it fixed as soon as possible,” said Karlsson. “With these things one of the most important things is you have to really wait and let itself heal 100 per cent before you do anything.
“We’ve got to be really careful about when we start putting pressure on the foot and really doing things with it.”
Karlsson is also doing his best to keep his teammates’ spirits up during this difficult period.
“You still try to help out when you can and not be in the way too much,” he said. “I just cheer them on and try to keep them happy.”
That prospect could be made more difficult as the Senators face playing two of their biggest rivals without Anderson. Ottawa hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night before the Montreal Canadiens visit Monday night.
The Senators lost 3-0 to the Leafs last Saturday night and are looking for a better outcome.
“That game is another case of not being able to score,” said Zack Smith, who is still looking for his first goal of the season. “I think we have some guys now who are playing good hockey and our last few games have been good so I’m sure it will be a better performance by us.”
Last weekend’s game against Toronto was Ottawa’s first without Karlsson. Since then, the Senators have won three straight and built some much-needed confidence.
“I think it shows the character we have in this locker room,” said Methot. “For me (Saturday’s game) is another game, another two points that we need.
“We’re all pretty pumped for the game.”
And with both Toronto and Ottawa fighting for a playoff spot, the game has added significance.
“We’ve always had good rivalries against them,” said Smith. “But I think this will only amp up the intensity if we’re both winning and in pretty good positions.”
Senators coach Paul MacLean wouldn’t divulge who’ll start in goal Saturday but would feel comfortable giving Lehner a start on home ice.
Ben Bishop finished Thursday’s game and was solid in a 2-1 win over New Jersey on Monday. Bishop said he’s ready if given the opportunity but Lehner, who has an 18-10-2 record in Binghamton, is hopeful about being given a chance.
NOTES: Centre Stephane DaCosta was re-assigned to Binghamton on Friday to make room for Lehner . . . Veterans Daniel Alfredsson and Sergei Gonchar were given the day off.