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Round 1, Game 2 Hotstove

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Karlsson’s health and changes not to be made

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

In Game 1, Erik Karlsson played 24:04, with only 31 seconds on the penalty kill. Both of those are down noticeably from the regular season averages. How much does this concern you?

Trevor: It concerns me a bit. On the one hand, he had some nice rushes where his skating looked fine. But on the other hand, he wasn't always skating like he normally does, and he seemed to be favouring one side. He's good enough to play, but there's no way that he's 100%. It's a blow for sure, but at least he's good enough to suit up, because Ottawa needs him more than ever.

Ary: 100% concern. I didn't expect him to be on one leg when we were answering all of the series preview questions, etc. -- you can argue that Karlsson to OTT >> Krug + Carlo to BOS.

You really notice the impact when OTT's down a goal and needs to press, and because it limits Karlsson from playing the Bergeron line. He still led the team in shot metrics and had a point, so he can still be effective, but you have to be careful with his usage. Here's hoping that he's a lot better by G3 in Boston when Boucher can't control the matchups. If it's a hairline fracture or something of that nature, we're in trouble.

Peter: I'm quite concerned, in part because it forces Boucher to play Ceci and Phaneuf in every shutdown situation--and we saw how well that worked on Wednesday night. Although Karlsson's speed seems largely fine, his evasiveness and side-to-side mobility seem to be what's most impacted by whatever's bothering him; that seriously hurts Ottawa's offensive game plan, because a lot of the team's production starts with him. It's also concerning because he's less able to avoid getting hit, which means he'll take more punishment than he's used to taking.

Most of all, I'm concerned because there seems to have been little to no improvement to his foot/leg/lower body in the week since he'd played his last game, which (I assume) means we're unlikely to see noticeable recovery for the foreseeable future. Ottawa's chances will take a massive hit if Karlsson isn't his normal, supernatural self.

Ross: Let's remember it wasn't all doom and gloom in Game 1. Ottawa put on a clinic in the second period on how to zone out your opponent. Boucher has shown he uses Phaneuf/Ceci as his shutdown pairing even when Karl is healthy. The biggest concern for me is the PK, because it puts guys like  Boro and Claesson out there more often which makes me nervous.

Colin: It's hard to tell too much whether the diminished ice time had to do with Karlsson being injured or Boucher hard matching Ceci and Phaneuf against the Bruins' top line. Hopefully it's the latter, as an injured Karlsson could be the deciding factor in what was anticipated as a tight series.

The Karlsson injury is mysterious, as the eye test didn't line up at all with the management report of him being 100%. Every player has an off game every now and then, so hopefully he can get back to his dominant self for game two. Should it be the same, then I'll be concerned.

Adnan: I am very concerned. Karlsson hadn't played for over a week and his usage in game one did nothing to calm my fears. Boston has injury problems but Boston's replacement guys can't be that much worse, if at all, than Ottawa's non-Karlsson defencemen. He has only played that one game in a week and a half so hopefully he is getting better.

Ary: Ken Warren's piece on Karlsson elaborates on the Karlsson injury by stating he actually has *two* leg injuries. The left hell from the Brayden Schenn shot vs. PHI that caused him to miss a couple games, and a right leg (knee?) injury sustained in the game vs. Detroit as he was battling Darren Helm for the puck. Given that his skating looked great vs. Detroit, I'd think that the right leg problem is what's limiting him, although hopefully it's something that can recover over the course of the playoffs.

I'm concerned if it persists, because Boston can only get better if Krejci/Carlo/Miller returns. Winning *any* game is obviously good, but the series may be over if the Sens can't take advantage of the depleted Bruins in Game 2. As in Game 1, a healthy Karlsson would help. They may have to do it by committee, though. Given what we know about the team's ability to generate offence without Karlsson, Boucher would be wise to maximize Hoffman and Stone's minutes as they're both elite players who can create something out of nothing.

What's one thing you think might be changed from game one for today, but shouldn't be?

Ross: Chris Kelly as a scratch. Dzingel, White, Neil would all be better options in my opinion. But Boucher might decide he wants a PK centreman.

Trevor: I have to agree with Ross. Kelly shouldn't be playing in games unless five Senators get hurt in the same game. There's a chance that he could come back in Game 2, but I actually have a good feeling that Boucher will let him sit again.

Colin: Marc Methot is looking likely to return, meaning someone will have to be a healthy scratch. I'm guessing the decision will be to scratch Fredrik Classson in favour of Mark Borowiecki,  as we've seen throughout the entire season.

I'm a huge fan of Freddy's skill set, and I think it would be quite the detriment if Boucher decided to not put it to use. Boro's physicality could turn out to be important if this series gets long, although the physicality that Phaneuf, Burrows, Smith, Methot and Stone bring should already be enough. Heck, even Claesson's shown to throw the body every now and then.

Adnan: Does giving Karlsson a health pack video game style count? Otherwise Ottawa did pretty well all things considered but maybe try to be more aggressive. Give Mike Hoffman regular shifts with Kyle Turris and Mark Stone to try to exploit Boston's injuries.

Ary: Oooooh I like many of the answers already suggested.

Is Kelly coming in worse than Claesson coming out (instead of Borowiecki)?

Ross: I would say yes. Boucher built his system around hiding the deficiencies of the left-side D. Boucher insists on playing Kelly on the PK and in defensive situations where he isn't good at all.