While three injured Sabres are expected to return to action on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators, the news isn’t as good for Alexander Sulzer.
Interim head coach Ron Rolston confirmed today the 28-year-old defenseman will miss the rest of the season following successful surgery to repair the ACL in his right knee. Sulzer suffered the injury on a collision in the corner against the New York Islanders on February 23. Rolston said the excessive swelling in the area surrounding the injury delayed Sulzer’s season-ending surgery.
“What happens in those injuries – and I’m not really a doctor, but I play one on TV – there’s so much swelling early on, that it’s hard to diagnose early how damaged it is until that goes away, until they can actually go in there after that,” Rolston explained. “So it takes a while for that swelling to go down, and when they go in to determine how bad it is in terms of the repair. That’s why it took a little longer. But it was successful and he’s on the recovery path now.”
Sulzer posted four points (3+1) in 17 games this season, with his three goals tied for the team lead among defensemen with Jordan Leopold.
LISTEN TO ROLSTON’S FULL AUDIO
Tyler Ennis participated in a limited role during today’s practice at First Niagara Center, including some work on the power play. Rolston classified Ennis as a “strong possibility” for Saturday, but the center seemed very optimistic despite feeling a little stiff and sore following the hit from behind by Wayne Simmonds in Philadelphia during the first period on Sunday. Ennis missed the rest of Sunday’s game, and didn’t play against the Rangers at home on Tuesday.
Simmonds was not penalized for the hit, and Ennis emphasized his displeasure today about the lack of punishment from the league.
“I thought it was dirty. People can say that I turned, and it’s happened before where guys turn and there’s no penalty. But I had a problem with that one,” said Ennis. “I feel like he was on my numbers the whole time. I feel like he kind of launched into me. I thought it was dirty.
“Sometimes I have no problem if I get hit and I turn, then it’s my fault and I accept that. That particular time I thought it was not the best play by him. I wish he got suspended or fined. I wasn’t happy with it, and I’m not happy that he didn’t.”
LISTEN TO ENNIS’ FULL AUDIO
The news continues to get better for Ville Leino, who is expected to make his long-awaited season debut on Saturday. Leino skated on the right wing today with center Mikhail Grigorenko and Steve Ott – the same trio that worked together in training camp before Leino’s hip injury.
After a pair of false starts to his season, Leino said he is looking forward to finally seeing game action.
“It’s been really annoying, a lot of frustration,” said Leino. “It’s been a tough time but hopefully it pays off now and I’m really excited to get back.”
If Leino is activated from Injured Reserve for Saturday, the Sabres will be forced to make a roster move prior to the game.
Rolston also today said that goaltender Ryan Miller is doing well after missing Tuesday’s game with a sinus infection.
The NHL today announced the league’s Board of Governors has approved the realignment plan that was proposed last week. Starting next season, the Sabres will play in the Eastern Conference’s “Division C” along with Boston, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto. (Permanent division names will be announced at a later date.)
The new-look NHL will be geographically-divided into a two conference, four-division format, and will feature a new twist for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Eastern Conference will have two eight-team divisions, while the Western Conference will be comprised of two seven-team divisions.
For more on the realignment plan, including divisional breakdowns and full schedule matrix, click here to read this article from NHL.com’s Dan Rosen.