Sens hope Karlsson will return for playoffs

Erik Karlsson.

If the Ottawa Senators make the playoffs, they just might be bolstered by the return of their Norris Trophy defenceman.

On Tuesday night, general manager Bryan Murray indicated that Erik Karlsson has taken some significant steps in his rehabilitation and a return to the lineup in the next couple of weeks isn’t out of the question.

“He’s obviously getting close. He is skating, he is working hard, he’s really committed to trying to get back. We have our fingers crossed that (he’ll return) maybe come playoff time but we’re just going to be open-minded about it and he’s going to tell us if health and mobility allow him to play,” Murray said.

Karlsson suffered a 70 per cent cut of his Achilles tendon when he was cut by the skate blade of Matt Cooke on Feb. 13 in Pittsburgh. At the time of the injury conservative estimates suggested he would miss at least between four-to-six months.

But Karlsson appeared to be well ahead of his rehabilitation schedule when he was seen taking part in on-ice drills earlier this month. The fact he was skating less than two months after suffering the injury led many people to believe that a return this season was suddenly realistic.

Earlier Tuesday, head coach Paul MacLean said there were no immediate plans for Karlsson to begin practicing with teammates. But Karlsson was scheduled to skate on his own on Wednesday, continuing his individual work with the club’s skating coach Marc Powers.

As for Jason Spezza, there is no chance that he returns to the lineup any time soon. He is reportedly feeling better in the past week and is able to take part in off-ice exercises. But Spezza hasn’t been skating for the past couple of weeks.

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