Some good news following today's morning skate as the coach confirmed that Erik Karlsson will return to the line-up tonight against the Hurricanes.
Karlsson had missed the previous two games dealing with the loss of his son during pregnancy as he spent time away from the team and with his family to begin the grieving process. Hopefully, tonight's game can be another step in the right direction for the Sens captain.
"It's great to have Erik back," said head coach Guy Boucher. "It's been a warm embrace from the players and everybody. It's not just for the hockey part, you've got your own family and then you've got your hockey family. For the organization, the players and the fans, it's an opportunity to embrace him back and give him the support he deserves."
Karlsson's return is sure to be emotional but it comes at a time when the Sens' young defence corps could use a little relief too. During Thursday's loss to the Oilers, Cody Ceci (32:49) and Thomas Chabot (22:10) saw their time-on-ice increase dramatically so a returning Karlsson should help stabilize the defence pairings tonight.
"We're not going to have Chabot and Ceci sleep on the ice today and go beyond their limits," said Boucher about the effects of getting his captain back. "With Erik coming in, it balances things out. I've talked about it all week, when you're missing your 'anchors', I think you have to be fair to the guys that are not anchors yet."
Karlsson will take Marian Gaborik's spot on the game roster as the 36-year-old is dealing with some nagging injuries that have caused him to miss the last two team skates. That means the coach will deploy 11 forwards and 7 defencemen tonight against the Hurricanes.
Video: Sens vs. Canes - Boucher Pre-game
Mike Condon (5-14-5) gets the start in goal tonight against the Hurricanes. Despite not earning decisions, Condon's play has really improved recently and he's got a .922 save percentage so far in March. The Hurricanes have just 2 wins in their last 6 games but they have plenty of offensive weapons that the Sens will need to plan for.
"They're a skilled team but it's about taking care of our business and playing with a lot of pride, courage and enthusiam," said Condon about tonight's match-up. "That's what I'm going to try and bring tonight but it's going to be a hard game regardless."
Craig Anderson draws the back-up duty tonight.