Last night as twitter rumours broke out, I was chatting with theactivestick/Laura about how if they were true, and that the Ottawa Senators were looking into acquiring Ryan O'Reilly from the Colorado Avalanche, it was tough to see the Canadiens fairing better than 3rd place in the Northeast Division.
Minutes later, a collision with Matt Cooke resulted in a severed Achilles tendon for superstar defenseman and reigning Norris Trophy champion Erik Karlsson will knock him out for the rest of the season.
With Jason Spezza out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery, the Senators are out their two best player by a country mile. Whatever Ottawa did to piss off the hockey gods, they really need to figure out how to fix it.
One minute, the Sens looked like a legitimate challenger for the division title, the next, it's tough to imagine them even making the playoffs.
Without Karlsson, the Senators' defense includes a top six of Chris Phillips, Sergei Gonchar, Marc Methot, Mike Lundin, Andre Benoit, and Patrick Weircioch. There isn't a first pairing defender in that group, and the Senators' offense is really going to miss the transition play and passing of Karlsson.
The freak accident (Yes, I know it was Cooke, but I highly doubt he purposely sliced Karlsson's tendon with his skate. He's not that evil) is a stark reminder of how fragile success is in this league. The Senators' success was perhaps more fragile than most teams, so much riding on Karlsson. That's the bleak truth of the NHL though.
Coming into last season, the Canadiens seemed primed for the best year in recent memory. Max Pacioretty was healthy, Erik Cole added depth to a deep scoring group, and Andrei Markov was going to be back soon. But Markov didn't come back until it was too late, and despite solid play, the Canadiens couldn't buy a win to start the year. Soon Jacques Martin was fired, Mike Cammalleri was traded, and the season was down the tubes.
The Habs went from contender to lottery team in a virtual instant. It was a cruel fact that we had to deal with for 82 games. Luckily for the Senators, their season is only 34 more games, and with the obvious impediments to the team due to injury, they probably won't fire their coach.
It's really brutal to see a player the calibre of Karlsson go down like this. Hopefully by October he's back to his usual self.