BUFFALO, NY (AP) – 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 amid a nine-game hitting 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 take some time here from shorter to what you already mentioned (season finale), 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 has already lost two games ever since Casey Cizikas recorded it on the wingers 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 pre-camp 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.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not disclosed the nature and cause of the injury.
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 went from crisis to crisis during the first two months of the season, and raised questions about Krueger’s job security. two years at his job.
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 injured when he crashed into the boards after a mid-ice check by Pittsburgh’s Zach Anton-Reese early in the third period of a 5-2 loss to the Penguins. 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.
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