SAN JOSE – Defenseman Erik Karlsson will be out of the Sharks’ lineup for Saturday’s game with the Tampa Bay Lightning and possibly beyond with an upper-body injury.
Sharks coach Bob Boughner said Karlsson has been dealing with the injury “for a while, and it’s just not getting any better.” Boughner said for now, Karlsson is considered day-to-day but added that the Sharks will soon get a clearer idea of how much time the two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman might have to miss.
Karlsson has 26 points in 33 games this season, already surpassing last season’s 22-point total, and is third among all Sharks skaters with an average of just over 23 minutes of ice time per game.
Karlsson, though, has been given a handful of maintenance days in recent weeks, staying off the ice for practices, as the Sharks coaching staff has tried to keep him as healthy as possible.
Karlsson played 23:36 in the Sharks’ 3-2 loss to the Seattle Kraken on Thursday, as he had three shots on net and a minus-2 rating. He and defense partner Jaycob Megna were on the ice for all three even-strength goals against.
“You could probably tell last game that he wasn’t 100 percent,” Boughner said. “He tried to muscle through it and he just can’t go today. So he’ll be reevaluated and we’ll call it day to day right now.”
Radim Simek will draw back into the Sharks’ lineup for Saturday’s game at SAP Center after sitting out the last six games, including the last four as a healthy scratch, and will be paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Brent Burns and Mario Ferraro will form the Sharks’ top pair and Ryan Merkley will be paired with Megna.
Karlsson’s injury comes at a time when the Sharks are about to embark on the most challenging portion of their schedule so far.
Besides two games with the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning, with the second one on Feb. 1, the Sharks also play against the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes as part of a four-game road trip that starts Wednesday in D.C.
All four teams came into Saturday in the top seven in the NHL’s overall standings, with the Lightning, at 59 points, two points back of the Panthers for first place overall.
Karlsson missed six games earlier this season after he tested positive for COVID-19, as he was one of four Sharks defensemen in the NHL’s protocol. Karlsson also missed Sharks games Jan. 6 and 8 against Buffalo and Philadelphia with an upper-body injury, although Boughner this latest malady is different than the one earlier this month.
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