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Insider

Teams that should be concerned entering playoffs

The return of Erik Karlsson (65) provides a a lift to a Senators club that has struggled of late. AP Photo/Mike Carlson

On Monday morning, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson skated on his own in Ottawa and his injured foot felt pretty good. Good enough that he adjusted his day’s plans pretty dramatically. He hopped on a plane and by late afternoon he was with his teammates in Detroit. Teammates that had no idea he suddenly had every intention of playing in a game the Senators absolutely needed to right the ship.

“Nobody knew,” said Senators center Kyle Turris.

“I didn’t really tell anyone, not even my teammates,” Karlsson said.

Then, of course, he scored a goal in regulation and nearly had another one in overtime. Ottawa lost in the shootout, but Karlsson’s efforts to return early show how desperate things are getting for the Senators.

Ottawa is 2-5-3 in its last 10 games and the loss in Detroit was its fifth consecutive.

On the morning of the game, Guy Boucher announced that defensemen Cody Ceci and Marc Methot, along with winger Zack Smith, would be out for the season with their assorted injuries. He was corrected slightly by someone nearby. They’d be out for the regular season. Their playoff fates still haven’t been determined.

This would be a heck of a way to enter the postseason, if the Senators can hang on. The playoffs are a battle of attrition, especially on defense where teams make a point of lining up defensemen going back for the puck. At this point, Boucher was missing three of his top four defensemen before Karlsson turned into Superman.

Still, even with all the injuries, Boucher shared a bit of the mentality the Senators have had all season long, one that makes him believe they can survive.