When it comes time to hand out the awards at the end of the season, it's safe to say a couple Senators will be in the mix.
After notching his 17th and 18th goals on Saturday night, Karlsson continues to force his way into the Norris Trophy conversation. Karlsson's 69 points have him sitting sixth in league scoring and third in assists. Karlsson is an incredible 25 points ahead of the next closest defenceman in scoring.
While guys like Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara are having great seasons, it is impossible to ignore the year Karlsson has put together.
His critics consistently point to a less than impressive defensive game as justification why he shouldn't win the award but in my opinion, that really isn't an issue in his game anymore. He is never going to be a guy that physically dominates attacking forwards but he has learned to use a quick stick and effective body position to make up for a lack of size.
Karlsson, a plus 15, leads all defenceman with 57 takeaways on the year.
While Karlsson appears like a lock to at least be nominated for the Norris Trophy, Sens Head Coach Paul MacLean has made a strong case to be in the discussion for coach of the year.
Considering just about every media outlet predicted the Senators would be in the basement of the Eastern Conference, MacLean deserves a ton of credit for getting all his players on the same page and pulling in the same direction. MacLean has everyone in that locker room, veterans and young guys, buying into his system. The result is a team that is competitive every time they hit the ice.
Ken Hitchcock, John Tortorella, Kevin Dineen and Glen Gulutzan are all going to be in the discussion but I think MacLean certainly deserves a nomination. And considering he sits fourth overall in league scoring, Jason Spezza is going to at least have to be considered in the Hart Trophy conversation but considering the year's guys like Malkin, Stamkos, Giroux and Lundqvist are having, a nomination is a long shot for Spezza.
There is still a ton of hockey left to play and as a team the Ottawa Senators haven't accomplished anything yet, but guys like Karlsson, MacLean and Spezza are forcing their way into consideration for some major hardware at the end of the season.
The Senators have a full day off and are back on the practice ice tomorrow afternoon. Ottawa plays three times this week beginning on Wednesday in Montreal followed by home games against the Canadiens and Maple Leafs.