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Karlsson doesn't think he'll be ready for Senators opening night

Defenseman says half of ankle bone was removed during surgery on left foot in June

by Chris Stevenson / NHL.com Correspondent

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson said Wednesday he likely won't be ready for the start of the regular season on Oct. 5.

Karlsson said half of his ankle bone was removed during surgery on his left foot June 14, and he was not optimistic he would be able to play when the Senators open their season at home against the Washington Capitals next Thursday. 

"Most likely not, no," he said. "Again, anything could happen. We'll see how it reacts once we get into things a little deeper with body contact and game speed. It's a good sign that I'm finally skating even though it's a strange feeling and it feels a lot different. I feel like I can manage it pretty good."

 

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The two-time Norris Trophy winner said he wasn't worried about being hit on the ankle by a shot.

"It's like when you break a bone, when it heals, it heals," he said. "They took half of my ankle bone out, so the part that is there should be as normal as possible. Again, you get a shot there, there is always the risk of breaking it whether it's the same ankle or something else. It's not something I'm worried about."

Karlsson, who tore tendons in his left foot during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring in addition to two fractures near the end of the regular season, skated with his teammates on Wednesday for the second time since the surgery. The first time was Saturday.

"It feels good. It's nice to be back out there, take a few reps and slowly get back into things," he said. "It's been a long time since I skated, so it's going to take a little bit of time here to get adjusted and skate as well as these guys do right now.

"In general it feels pretty decent, even though it's a weird feeling."

Karlsson said he isn't experiencing any pain.

"I can't say that it feels normal, but there's no sharpness or anything that's going to affect me moving forward, I think," he said. "I would try to explain it, but it's hard to say what exactly is different. It feels like I have a leather piece in my one ankle. You can't really move it. It's going to take some getting used to, but I feel like I can manage it pretty well right now. Hopefully it's just going to get better and better.

"It feels a lot better than it did during the playoffs last year, and I see that as progress. Hopefully it's just going to keep moving forward and starting to feel better and better the deeper we go in the season."

Karlsson, 27, had 71 points (17 goals, 54 assists) in 2016-17 and has led the Senators in regular-season scoring in each of the past four seasons. He also led the Senators with 18 points (two goals, 16 assists) in 19 playoff games.

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