OTTAWA – Erik Karlsson showed no sign of disappointment or jetlag as he returned to the ice with the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.
The Swedish defenceman came home with an Olympic silver medal and while he would have preferred gold, he said his experience in Sochi was unforgettable.
“It was two amazing weeks,” said Karlsson, whose Swedes lost 3-0 to Canada in the gold medal gamd on Sunday. “I think everyone was a little bit skeptical before we got there and once we got there I think everyone was a little bit surprised how good it was. All the facilities were really good.”
Making the Games that much more special was sharing the experience with close friend and former teammate Daniel Alfredsson.
“It was great,” said Karlsson. “We were rooming together and pretty much spent every day together. We’re good friends and it’s always nice to see some guys that you haven’t seen in a while. We had a really good time together.”
While the NHL’s participation in the 2018 Olympics remains uncertain, Karlsson says he would love to have another chance to represent Sweden four years from now.
Karlsson will be reunited with some of his Swedish teammates Thursday as the Senators host the Detroit Red Wings in their first game since the Olympic break. But he knows all niceties will have to be set aside.
Heading into Wednesday night’s games the Senators trailed Detroit by one point for the final wild card spot in the tight Eastern Conference. The Red Wings were in Montreal Wednesday night.
“I think everybody’s excited to start playing again,” said Karlsson. “We have an exciting game against Detroit Thursday and then we go to Vancouver and play the outdoor game. We have a lot of things to look forward to.”
With 23 games remaining the Senators know they can’t afford to take any nights off, but at the same time can’t become overly obsessed with losses.
“We know what we have to do,” said Clarke MacArthur. “There’s a lot of wins to be done here.”
Much has been made about which teams will benefit most from the Olympic break and while MacArthur says he’d like to think the fact only two members of the Senators participated in the Olympics will work in their favour, he knows they’ll have to wait and see.
“Every game is big,” said MacArthur. “You just have to worry about what we have to do and keep going forward with it. We just have to worry about the certain amount of points we need to get into the playoffs and worry about ourselves.”
Following their game against the Red Wings the Senators head out to West for a four-game road trip that starts Sunday with the Heritage Classic against the Vancouver Canucks.
In addition to keeping an eye on the standings, the Senators are also well aware of the upcoming trade deadline.
“It comes and goes every year and if you get traded you get traded and if you don’t you don’t,” said captain Jason Spezza. “It’s a big day for the media. There’s a lot of viewers, a lot of people watching, a lot of fans. You want to create excitement.”
Spezza says regardless of what happens, he’s confident the Senators will fare just fine.
The Senators could have a bit of a different look Thursday as Senators coach Paul MacLean juggled his lines once again.
The most anticipated trio could be that of Mika Zibanejad, Bobby Ryan and Mike Hoffman, who was recalled from the AHL Binghamton Senators on Monday.
“(Mika’s) a big, strong powerful guy that can create a lot of room for other players,” said Ryan. “We are similar that we like to be around the puck in the corners a little bit and we’ll have to read off each other, but there’s certainly a lot of potential for a great match-up and some great chemistry.”
Ryan missed four practices with an undisclosed injury, but says he doesn’t anticipate missing any time.
“It feels pretty good and I feel good now,” said Ryan. “That’s the plan is to be close to it (100 per cent) for Thursday.”
Notes: G Craig Anderson remains in Florida awaiting the birth of his second child and could be questionable for Thursday’s game against Detroit. If Anderson isn’t available the Senators will recall someone from Binghamton and Robin Lehner will get the start. D Joe Corvo and D Patrick Wiercioch appear to be the odd-men out for Thursday’s game according to Wednesday’s pairings. Former member of the Ottawa 67’s G Jacob Blair filled in during Anderson’s absence at practice.