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Sharks, Karlsson still determining ‘right thing to do’ with injury, but short-term outlook isn’t good

Sharks, Karlsson still determining ‘right thing to do’ with injury, but short-term outlook isn’t good

SAN JOSE – Defenseman Erik Karlsson’s upper-body injury will likely force him to miss the Sharks’ upcoming road trip against some of the Eastern Conference’s top teams, coach Bob Boughner said Monday.

Boughner said Karlsson was going to see a doctor later Monday to help decide the next course of action, adding that it was too soon to say whether surgery would be needed. Indications were, though, that Karlsson would not be available for the challenging string of four games that starts Wednesday in Washington against the Capitals.

“I would say you’re probably not going to see him on this road trip,” Boughner said. “We’ll see how this appointment goes.

“We’re trying to figure out the right thing to do here and we need, obviously, the medical advice and see what the right thing to do is.”

Karlsson did not play in Saturday’s game with the Tampa Bay Lightning, a 7-1 Sharks loss. Boughner said Karlsson’s upper-body injury is unrelated to the oblique strain he had earlier this month.

After Wednesday, the Sharks have games Saturday and Sunday against the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes, respectively. The trip concludes next Tuesday against the Lightning. All four teams entered Monday in the top eight in the NHL’s overall standings.

After the game in Tampa, the Sharks do not play again until Feb. 14 at home against the Edmonton Oilers, potentially giving Karlsson more time to heal without missing any more games.

The Sharks (21-19-2) entered Monday clinging to fourth place in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. Calgary, Dallas, Edmonton, and Winnipeg, each with multiple games in hand, were all within four points of the Sharks entering Monday’s games.

The Sharks are 1-3-1 in their last five games, and their loss Saturday was their most lopsided of the season.

“It’s a wake-up call for everybody that we need to step up,” Boughner said. “There hasn’t been many flat performances from this team all year. But number one, against the best teams, if you don’t have that as your foundation, (and) match (their) work ethic, then you don’t give yourself a chance and you can throw the X’s and O’s and the systems out the door.”

Karlsson had been dealing with this latest malady for some time as he had been given a handful of maintenance days before he sat out Saturday. He entered that game with 26 points in 33 games this season and is third among all Sharks skaters with an average of just over 23 minutes of ice time per game.

The Sharks are 5-3-1 this season without Karlsson in the lineup. He missed six games from Oct. 30 to Nov. 11 for COVID-related reasons and games against Detroit and Philadelphia earlier this month because of his oblique strain.

“Next man up,” Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said about potentially playing without Karlsson again. “We’ve had guys down with COVID, Karlsson’s been out during COVID, missed two games with an injury, now he might miss again. So, the next guy will step up.”

The availability of Jaycob Megna for Wednesday’s game is also in question after he blocked a shot in Saturday’s game. X-rays on Megna were negative as he’s received treatment Sunday and Monday. Boughner said the Sharks were hopeful Megna would be OK to participate in the team’s morning skate in Washington.

The Sharks have Nicolas Meloche available should either Karlsson or Megna not be ready. Jake Middleton, who has been in concussion protocol for the last eight games, skated early Monday morning and will join the Sharks on the road trip, but isn’t expected to play Wednesday.

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