The San Jose Sharks will be without defenseman Erik Karlsson until after the All-Star break. Karlsson suffered a lower-body injury in Tuesday’s game against the Penguins. He played Wednesday against Arizona but was a late scratch for the Sharks’ game on Saturday.
By all indications, the injury is nothing that will keep Karlsson out long-term. The Sharks, rightfully so, are being cautious with their all-star defenseman. They have just two games this week before the break. Karlsson will now have two weeks to heal and rest up for the second-half of the regular season.
Karlsson has really hit his stride of late after a relatively slow start to the season. After registering just 16 points in his first 29 games, Karlsson’s gone off for 27 in his last 18. His absence leaves a huge void atop the Sharks’ power-play and defensive pairings.
Softening the blow that is Karlsson’s absence is the potential return of Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Vlasic is considered a game-time decision for tonight’s contest against the Panthers. He hasn’t played since suffering a wrist injury in a game against Colorado on January 2. Vlasic’s offensive contributions have dwindled, but he remains a stout defensive-defenseman. He can handle some of the tougher minutes and assignments at a time when the Sharks need it the most. He and Brent Burns would take on the bulk of Karlsson’s even strength minutes, while Tim Heed is expected to see some additional power-play time.
Confirmation on Vlasic’s status likely won’t come until warmups at 6:30 PM EST. Follow DailyFaceoff on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information.