Erik Karlsson Injury: Sharks Think He's Close to Returning to Lineup

The Sharks will once again be without All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday. However, they might not be playing without him for much longer.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told the media in Vancouver on Monday he thinks the two-time Norris Trophy winner defenseman is "really close" to rejoining the team. DeBoer also revealed that Karlsson is dealing with a muscle injury in his lower body.

There has been mystery surrounding the extent of Karlsson's ailment since he was first a last-minute scratch on Jan. 19, when the Sharks visited the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was missing from the lineup for the following two games against the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals, and sat out again when the team returned from their bye week to host the Arizona Coyotes. Karlsson participated in the All-Star festivities in San Jose between that time, but kept mum on details about his health.

Karlsson practiced partially in San Jose ahead of the Sharks' four-game road trip through Western Canada, but then did not travel with the team. DeBoer told the media at the start of the trip he hoped Karlsson would eventually join the team, but later said they were also being cautious with him and didn't want to aggravate his injury.

The Sharks are no doubt eager to have Karlsson back in the lineup, although they've continued playing well while he is on the mend. Since returning from the All-Star break and the bye week, they have allowed only two goals per game.

San Jose has also strung together four consecutive victories, including big wins over the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames. Fellow defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic's return to the lineup from his own injury has helped keep San Jose's blue line buzzing, while Brent Burns has continued to get on the score sheet and log big minutes to make up for Karlsson's absence. 

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