Buffalo Sabers’ Jack Eichel in the ‘foreseeable future’ season-ending injury


BUFFALO, NY – The Buffalo Sabers will be without captain Jack Eichel in what coach Ralph Krueger called “the foreseeable future” as he delivered another blow to a team in the midst of a nine-game streak.

The injury is not considered the end of the season, although Krueger on Saturday could not provide a fixed schedule for how long Eichel will lose.

“An injury of this nature needs further evaluation and more time to understand,” he said. “We only know that it will be some time here from shorter to what you already mentioned. [season-ending], but it’s somewhere in between. “

The update came after Eichel traveled to see a specialist for the past two days to further determine the severity of the injury. Under the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol rules, Eichel must spend seven days in quarantine as a result of the trip, which means he will miss at least the next four Buffalo games.

He’s already missed two games since Casey Cizikas recorded him on the backboards in the final minutes of a 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Sunday. Eichel went to the bench, where he was seen wincing as he flexed his neck.

The Sabers, who host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night, are in free fall. Buffalo (6-15-4) ranks last in the league in wins and on a 0-7-2 streak, putting the team in danger of extending its playoff drought to a 10th season that equals the league’s record. NHL.

Eichel’s latest injury is separate from the previous two that have severely hampered his production this season.

He missed the first week of training camp after sustaining an upper body injury during a previous ice training session at the Sabers’ practice facility. A person with direct knowledge of the incident told The Associated Press on Saturday that Eichel sustained a rib injury during training with Matt Ellis, the team’s director of player development.

Eichel also missed two games last month with a lower body injury.

A year after scoring a career-high 36 goals in 68 games, the five-time 20+ goal scorer has been limited to two goals and 16 assists in 21 games this year. He hadn’t scored in 13 games before hurting himself.

Eichel’s scoring problems mirror those of the Sabers, who rank 30th in the 31-team league with an average of 2.24 goals per game, and are the latest to have scored 34 times in five-on-five situations.

His prolonged absence represents the latest setback for a team that has gone from crisis to crisis during the first two months of the season, and raised questions about Krueger’s job security for two years in his position.

Buffalo’s schedule was put on hiatus for two weeks after a COVID-19 outbreak hit the team in early February, during which seven players and Krueger were affected. The hiatus resulted in the Sabers facing a restricted schedule in which they are squeezing their last 46 games for 83 days.

Injuries have become a problem.

Starting goalkeeper Linus Ullmark is still weeks away from recovering from a lower body injury last month. And the Sabers are also missing two key defenders, including Jake McCabe, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last month.

Rookie center Dylan Cozens is the latest out. Krueger said Cozens will not play Saturday and is on the day-to-day list with an upper body injury.

Cozens was hurt when he crashed into the boards after a midice check by Pittsburgh’s Zach Anton-Reese early in the third period of a 5-2 loss to the Penguins on Thursday. Cozens had just dropped the puck and appeared to hit his head as he hit the boards.

Cozens has three goals and two assists in 20 games, and had been elevated to play on the top line for Buffalo in place of Eichel.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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