Problems continue to pile up for the Buffalo Sabres, whether it be injuries or their own making. The Sabres are tied for last place in the NHL with 15 points (6-8-3) after a 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, and lost team captain Jack Eichel and starting goalie Linus Ullmark to injury.
Eichel took the skate prior to the game against the Devils but was scratched due to a lower-body injury. Ullmark was injured in the first period after making a sprawling save on New Jersey’s Nico Hischier and was replaced by backup Carter Hutton. Hutton allowed four goals on 25 shots, including Pavel Zacha’s game-winner at 1:17 of overtime.
Eichel (who has 2 goals, 12 assists in 16 games) and Ullmark (5-4-2 record, 2.44 GAA and .918 save percentage in 12 games) both did not practice with the club on Friday. Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger indicated that Eichel is day-to-day, while Ullmark is still being evaluated, but is not expected to be available for weekend home games against the Philadelphia Flyers.
OH MY – WHAT A SAVE#LetsGoBuffalo Linus Ullmark with a glorious save here … he is shaken up. Trainer out with him now.
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) February 26, 2021
The ongoing saga regarding Jeff Skinner continued on Thursday, as the veteran winger was a healthy scratch for the third straight game. The 28-year-old has one assist in 14 games playing mostly on the fourth line after scoring 40 goals as a top-six forward in 2019 and signing an eight-year, $72 million contract.
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Krueger insists that the healthy scratching of Skinner is not for disciplinary reasons, but simply him putting the best lineup on the ice.
“I don’t have a doghouse, I don’t know really what that is. My job every single morning is to continually try to do what’s best for the Sabres with all the information that we have and my trusted circle of coaches and Kevyn Adams and the discussions we have. Of course, I’d love to share everything all the time with everybody.” Krueger said. “My job, combined with the attitude and the work ethic of a player, is to work together to find the potential of a player. May this eventually, when Jeff is called upon again, may we drive him closer to his potential working together on that solution. I would say right now the decisions are more for the players that are in the lineup than against anybody else.”
Skinner’s representative Don Meehan had a lengthy discussion with Sabres GM Kevyn Adams this week regarding the winger’s status according to Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News, but there does not seem to be an easy resolution to the situation with him having a no-movement clause and six years left with an AAV of $9 million.
On Friday, Skinner skated with the main group at Key Bank Center after being relegated to working with the taxi squad earlier in the week, but Krueger would not commit to the winger returning to the lineup on Saturday against the Flyers.