• By: Dave Gross

Karlsson returns to capital

Photo courtesy NHLI via Getty Images

So, I imagine there will be a little bit of interest in this one.

Saturday, the best player in Ottawa Senator franchise history makes his return to the capital.

Yup, that would be one Erik Karlsson whose relatively anonymous season on the west coast gets thrust into the spotlight . . . whether he likes it or not.

Something tells us, he’s going to like it.

Really, has there ever been an Ottawa player that relishes the attention and fan appreciation more than Erik?

This guy thrives on it.

And given the way his less than spectacular season has gone, maybe a trip back to his old haunt will kickstart his campaign.

Karlsson, for all his efforts, has been quiet in San Jose.

The high-end point totals are just not there.

In fact, Karlsson failed to score a goal through San Jose’s first 20 games.

That’s jaw-dropping, especially considering the talent he’s playing alongside with the Sharks. Face it, most of you in hockey pools who had the opportunity took Karlsson early.

The numbers aren’t terrible – two goals and 13 assists through 24 games – but they certainly don’t mirror recent years. Certainly well off the pace of that superb 2015-16 year when he collected 21 goals and 82 points in 82 games.

This past week though, Karlsson looks like he’s ‘getting the bounces.’

After breaking through with his first goal, the former Senator enjoyed a three-point night at the expense of the Vancouver Canucks.

"It's getting better and better," Karlsson said to NHL.com. "I think we played well today. Our power play was working well, and we got lots of opportunities. That helped. Obviously, we played well defensively as well. It's nice to see that can come together once in a while. Just got to make it more consistent."

For their part, the Sharks are saying all the right things in light of his slow start points-wise.

“I think his game is trending in the right direction,” head coach Pete DeBoer said to NBC Sports.  “When you look at the underlying numbers of what he’s doing here, they’re as good or better than they were two years ago in Ottawa.

“All those things are there. It just hasn’t (broken) the right way for him yet.”

DeBoer indicated that maybe a little pressure played a role.

“It’s human nature. You want to come in, you want to make an impact," DeBoer added to AP. "For sure, that can weigh on you. But sometimes you have to take a step back and look at what’s actually going on.”

"You could just see it in his face that it was weighing on him, there's no doubt. But he's been playing some real good hockey, and I think he's been really solid for us lately. For me, the offence is a bonus. We know it's going to be there, and the numbers are going to be there at the end of the year because they have to be based on what he's doing."

And the Sharks contend they are very happy with the former Senators’ captain’s overall play. DeBoer pointed to his ‘other’ numbers – “Possession, shot, chance metrics. All those things.”

Regardless of the low point totals, expect Karlsson to display his flash and dash regularly upon his return.

So then, Saturday Dec. 1.

It’s sure to be a show.

Can’t wait.

News, notes and notions: Wednesday night’s Buffalo Sabres’ 5-2 win against Philadelphia on @NBCSN delivered the highest rating ever (a 13.8 rating) in the Buffalo market. That’s for a regular-season game . . . That 3-2 win over Detroit Saturday gave the Sabres nine straight wins. Didn’t see that coming . . . The Sabres can tie their franchise record for consecutive wins when they host Karlsson et all on Tuesday night . . . The Capitals are smoking too. They won their fifth straight Saturday . . . Craig Anderson’s workload doesn’t look like it’s going to lighten. The 37-year-old goalie is set to make his 22nd appearance in goal for Ottawa tonight against the Rangers in New York. “As a starting goaltender, if you’re satisfied with not playing, then you’re no longer in the league,” Anderson told Postmedia this past weekend.

Senators week ahead:

Monday, Nov. 26: Ottawa at NY Rangers (7 pm)

Tuesday, Nov. 27: Ottawa at Philadelphia (7 pm)

Thursday, Nov. 29: NY Rangers at Ottawa (7:30 pm)

Saturday, Dec. 1: San Jose at Ottawa (1 pm)