The apparent leg injury that sidelined Evander Kane
in the third period of Saturday’s game against New Jersey will force the Buffalo Sabres to be without their star forward for an extended period of time.
Sabres coach Dan Bylsma announced that Kane will miss the next 4-6 weeks with an injured MCL. Kane was injured when a check by Devils defenseman David Schlemko caused his knee to bend awkwardly as it hit the boards.
While he’s only managed to score one goal in eight games this season, there’s no denying the many qualities that Kane has brought to the ice in his first season with the Sabres. They’ll now unfortunately be without those attributes for about a month.
“A lot of the speed and a lot of the tenacity and a lot of our drive, he’s been that for our offense,” Bylsma said. “He doesn’t quite have the numbers, but yes he’s been that for our team. Someone else gets the chance to do that now.”
Kane only played in 37 games last year before undergoing an operation on his shoulder that forced him to shut down his season in February.
Through the first month of the season, he’d been a driving force on Buffalo’s top two lines.
“It’s big,” forward Ryan O'Reilly said. “He adds a lot of speed and the way he shoots the puck and just the way he plays, he’s a physical guy and tough to play against. It’ll be a loss but as much as it hurts to see a guy go down we’ve got to step up and we all have to help out.”
The Sabres did receive some good news on Monday as forward Marcus Foligno returned to practice after missing Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury. Foligno said that he expects to be ready to play against the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
In other injury news, Bylsma said that defenseman Zach Bogosian is continuing to rehab his lower-body injury, but has not yet returned to the ice. Bogosian has not played in either the preseason or regular season after sustaining his injury early in Training Camp, but did practice wearing a red non-contact jersey on Oct. 14.
Buffalo needed to recall a forward from Rochester in Kane’s absence, and Tim Schaller was the one to receive the opportunity. Schaller has two points (1G + 2A) in six games for the Amerks of the American Hockey League this season.
Schaller scored one goal for Buffalo in the preseason, but on Monday he wanted to make it clear to Bylsma that there was more to come once the opportunity arises.
“Before practice, I told him I have more to show and he agrees with that,” Schaller said. “I can score, too. I’m good defensively, but with that comes goal scoring. I’ve got to stop pucks around the net and also be gritty around the net too.”
Bylsma seemed to have an idea as to why Schaller wasn’t able to bring his best in camp.
“He was working through injury – a lower-body injury – and probably swallowed it a little more than he let on and so I was feigning getting upset at him for that for the first couple weeks,” Bylsma said. “He plays better than he was able to in Training Camp and frankly once he’s gotten down to Rochester and gotten to full health he has been the type of player he can be.”
With three games in four days this week, beginning in Philadelphia on Tuesday and ending with a home game against the Flyers on Friday, Bylsma said that we can expect to see Schaller in the lineup sooner rather than later.
DESLAURIERS JOINS THE TOP SIX
Kane’s injury caused a bit of line shuffling at Monday’s practice too, with no change more noticeable than the addition of Nicolas Deslauriers on the Sabres’ top line with O'Reilly and Tyler Ennis.
With that being said, the plan isn’t exactly new. While he’s spent most of the season on the team’s fourth line, Deslauriers played on some shifts with O'Reilly and Ennis on Saturday and together they were able to generate multiple scoring chances.
Bylsma said that he hopes for O'Reilly and Ennis to feed off of Deslauriers’ tenacity and net presence.
“Going into the last game actually, we went in with the plan that we’d use him more there at bits and pieces of the game,” Bylsma said. “He skates well, he’s a big body, he’s a forechecker, he’s a worker and I don’t want to say this too loud but he does have a little finish in his game and has so far this year.”
For Deslauriers, who has scored one goal this season, the line promotion is simply another chance for him to continue showing the multitude of ways that he can contribute.
“I had a couple shifts with O'Reilly last game and it went pretty good,” he said. “I think for me it’s just to take this as an opportunity to prove myself a little bit more and I’m pretty happy, I think those two players are incredible players and I just need to stick to my game and give them a little more space on the ice.”
Coverage of Tuesday’s game begins at 6:30 p.m. with Tops Sabres Gamenight on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard on WGR 550. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The team will wrap up their two-game road trip on Thursday in Pittsburgh.
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 90 Ryan O'Reilly – 63 Tyler Ennis
23 Sam Reinhart – 15 Jack Eichel – 22 Johan Larsson
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 12 Brian Gionta
82 Marcus Foligno – 17 David Legwand – 88 Jamie McGinn – 59 Tim Schaller
Defensemen: 4 Josh Gorges, 55 Rasmus Ristolainen, 29 Jake McCabe, 3 Mark Pysyk, 6 Mike Weber, 46 Cody Franson, 25 Carlo Colaiacovo
31 Chad Johnson
35 Linus Ullmark