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Erik Karlsson practices

by Chris Lund / Ottawa Senators

It wasn't very long ago that we saw footage of Erik Karlsson skating solo at the Bell Sensplex, and now there is even more reason for Sens fans to feel optimistic. The reigning Norris Trophy winner took in a full practice with the Sens today and appears to be recovering very well.

When Karlsson had a 70 percent sever of his Achilles tendon back in February, it was assumed that he would be done for the year. Now, it looks as though there is a chance Karlsson may, in fact, play in the relatively near future provided he feels comfortable.

"It has been nine weeks or so and we obviously expected it to take a lot longer," said Karlsson. "It's just getting it to the point where it feels normal."

While Karlsson is clearly making progress there is still no guarantee that he will return before the 2013-14 season. He doesn't feel any pain but still hasn't hit the point where he feels completely normal and admits that he may not be as fast as he was right off the hop. Regaining the flash we became so familiar with will still be part of the ongoing process, though you'd be hard-pressed to see much difference between then and now.

The plan going forward is to have Karlsson skate with the team until he reaches that natural stage once again. Practicing alongside his teammates ought to provide a good measuring stick for his progress. Being part of this push for the playoffs is only gong to help him that much more, similar to how it aided Jared Cowen.

"It's an exciting time of year," said Karlsson. "You just want to be around the guys."

There are obvious concerns from some regarding the speed of his recovery to this point and if it will lead to further injury. At 22 years old, Karlsson has a lot of hockey ahead of him and there has to be caution when giving him the green light after such a traumatic injury.

The good news for Sens fans is they can take solace knowing he won't be sacrificing long term health for potential short term gains. Getting that level of comfort within the context of his recovery is the goal above all else.

"Every injured player wants to get back as soon as possible, but I'm not going to make any stupid decisions."

There was a definite relaxed feel to the practice with Karlsson in attendance. While much of that can be attributed to a team's psyche during a four game winning streak, the light-heartedness Karlsson brings with him on the ice eased things even further.

With a couple goals in practice and the chirping that ensued, it's as if he never left. His Sens teammates were excited to have him back on the ice. Karlsson's most recent defensive partner, Marc Methot, weighed in on the Norris Trophy winner's return. He thinks Karlsson's return is great for the team, though Methot unleashed the sarcasm when asked if they will be reunited any time soon.

"Will he be good enough to play with me? Probably not."

For what it's worth, Coach MacLean said he "looked like Erik Karlsson" this morning. Rumour has it Erik Karlsson ain't half bad.

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