Thursday, February 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Senators' Erik Karlsson happy to be World Cup teammates with Hedman, Stralman

OTTAWA — Half of Sweden's loaded blue line for September's World Cup was on display Thursday during the Senators-Lightning game.

And Senators D Erik Karlsson, a two-time Norris Trophy winner, is happy that Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman joined him on the country's preliminary roster of 16, announced Wednesday.

Karlsson has known Hedman since they were kids, and they were teammates on Sweden's 2009 World Junior Championship team. Karlsson said Hedman is not the flashiest player but elevates his game in big moments, like last year's playoffs.

"He's more of an all-around 'D,' " Karlsson said. "He doesn't do anything extraordinary there that sticks out either way, which is usually a good thing. I wish I had that a little bit more in me sometimes. He's the type of guy in tournaments like this, in national games and during playoffs, when you need someone to step up … you see how really good he is."

Having been snubbed for Sweden's 2014 Olympic team, this will be Hedman's biggest international tournament. It also will be for Stralman, Hedman's defense partner the past two seasons.

"(Stralman is) a stability guy. He always does the same thing," Karlsson said. "He's someone you can really rely on. No matter the situation, he's going to do the same thing. You know what you're going to get out of him.

"When there's so much on the line, those guys are really important to have, and they'll be a big part of the team."

MEDICAL MATTERS: After getting re-evaluated in Tampa, D Andrej Sustr was considered day to day with an undisclosed injury, GM Steve Yzerman said. Sustr got hurt early in Monday's game in Toronto. Coach Jon Cooper said he "jammed something." Sustr did not play Thursday, and it was unclear if he would be ready to be back Saturday against Carolina.

MR. VERSATILITY: Down to six defensemen, Cooper was asked if the team considered making a callup. "No," he said, smiling. "Because we have 61/2."

Cooper was referring to C Brian Boyle, who has filled in on defense several times the past two seasons when a defenseman got hurt. Boyle got reps on defense during Wednesday's practice just in case he had to be used. With Sustr's injury considered short term, Cooper felt comfortable using Boyle.

"That's a great thing about how versatile Boyle is," Cooper said. "If we need him in a pinch, he can play 'D' for us."

EASING IN: Cooper liked how D Jason Garrison looked in his return Monday after missing three weeks (10 games) with a lower-body injury. "Especially those high ankles (injuries), you rush them back too soon and it can just do further damage," Cooper said. "We've had a few of those this year, and you just have to take your time and let them heal."

NUTS AND BOLTS: RW Erik Condra, a former Ottawa wing, was back in the lineup for Thursday's 4-1 win, with RW Jonathan Marchessault a healthy scratch. G Ben Bishop made the start against his former team and is 9-0-3 in 12 career starts versus Ottawa. … The Lightning was scheduled to be off Friday.

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