Today, Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma announced that winger Evander Kane was done with an upper-body injury that will require 3-4 weeks to heal.
The Sabres, of course, don’t have another 3-4 weeks. Their last game will be April 9.
Kane will finish with 20 goals and 15 assists in 65 games. He missed 10 games earlier in the season with a knee injury. He also sat out one game due to a team suspension.
One member of the Sabres who hasn’t been ruled out for the rest of the season is forward Tyler Ennis. He hasn’t played since December because of a concussion, but Bylsma says a return is still possible:
Ennis not yet ruled out to return. Still working out & skating on his own; could practice soon.
Not counting the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the last time there was no 100-point man or 50-goal scorer in the NHL was 2003-04.
That year, Martin St. Louis won the Art Ross Trophy with 94 points and three players — Rick Nash, Ilya Kovalchuk and Jarome Iginla — shared the Rocket Richard Trophy with 41 goals. It was statistically the deadest season of the so-called Dead Puck Era.
There would be no hockey in 2004-05 due to a lockout. When the league returned to action, goal-scoring rose to levels not seen in a decade, largely because power plays skyrocketed due to a crackdown on obstruction.
But scoring has since fallen to around 2003-04 levels. And in 2015-16, it’s possible once again that there will be no 100-point man or 50-goal scorer. Patrick Kane has 94 points with five games to go. Alex Ovechkin has 44 goals with six games left.
This time, the crackdown is expected to involve the goaltenders’ equipment. What effect that has remains to be seen, but it’s no wonder the netminders have been targeted. The average save percentage is currently .915. Thirty years ago, it was .873. Ten years ago, it was. 901.
Many, of course, are happy with the game as it is. Last night in Philadelphia, there were only two goals scored between the Flyers and Capitals, but fans hardly got shortchanged. There were 64 shots combined and all sorts of scoring chances. Not to mention the intensity. There was plenty of that. Later on, the Ducks and Flames would combine for a rare 11 goals. But it wasn’t a great game. It was an 8-3 blowout.
Others would like to see more goals, more lead changes. It’s been said that 6-5 is the best score in hockey. In the 1987 Canada Cup finals between Canada and the Soviet Union, all three games were decided by that score. In Game 3, Canada overcame a 3-0 deficit to win, as Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux teaming up for one of the most famous goals in international history:
It’s probably never going to be like that again. The goaltenders are too good, the coaching too detailed. There would have to be dramatic rule changes. Or bigger nets. Mike Babcock’s an advocate of the latter, but to this point he remains in the minority.
The Buffalo Sabres announced today that Lehner had “successful surgery on his right ankle and will be unavailable for the remainder of the team’s games this season.”
Lehner will finish his first campaign as a Sabre with a modest 5-9-5 record, but an impressive .924 save percentage. The 24-year-old only got to appear in 21 games after suffering a high-ankle sprain in the season-opener on Oct. 8.
The Sabres will be hoping that surgery and a full offseason of rehab will put an end to Lehner’s ankle issues. Remember, they gave up a lot to get him from Ottawa. They’ll need him to stay healthy, as he’s a key building block in GM Tim Murray’s plan.
Devastated and ‘infuriated’ — woman who accused Blackhawks prospect of revenge porn speaks out
The woman who accused Blackhawks prospect Garret Ross of revenge porn was “infuriated” when she learned how quickly the club had reinstated the player after the charges were dropped.
“I was sitting at my desk at work literally shaking I was so mad,” the woman told the Chicago Tribune. “I saw it coming, but it still was devastating, especially since it was made known that the charges were dropped due to jurisdiction issues, not due to lack of evidence.”
She added, “What bothered me the most was that it took the Blackhawks 40 days after Ross was booked and charged to suspend him, but less than 10 hours to reinstate him.”
DeKalb County prosecutors said the charges against 23-year-old Garret Ross were dropped Tuesday after investigators determined the incident happened while Ross was in Michigan.
The Chicago Blackhawks suspended Ross over the accusations that he shared an image of a woman engaged in a sexual act without her consent. The team said Tuesday he was reinstated with the IceHogs.
When Ross was suspended by the club on March 23, the ‘Hawks released a statement saying they had “learned” on March 19, just four days earlier, of “a legal proceeding” against him.
According to the Chicago Tribune, however, Ross had been “charged Feb. 2 after a four-month investigation in which investigators obtained a search warrant for his cellphone.”
That’s led to questions about when the ‘Hawks actually “learned” that Ross may be in legal trouble. Was it really March 19, as the club’s statement on March 23 seemed to insinuate?
The club would only say via another statement: “On March 23, 2016, the Chicago Blackhawks suspended Garret Ross after learning of a legal proceeding against him, and stated at that time that the suspension was indefinite pending the outcome of the legal process. We learned today, March 29, that the legal process concluded in Illinois with the dismissal of all charges against Garret. As a result, Garret Ross is reinstated with the IceHogs, effective immediately. We will have no further comment on the matter.”
Virtanen gets two-game suspension for ‘late, forceful, blindside check’ on Polak
Canucks rookie forward Jake Virtanen has been suspended two games for what the NHL’s Department of Player Safety deemed a “late, forceful, blindside check” on Sharks defenseman Roman Polak.
The incident occurred last night in Vancouver. Virtanen received a five-minute major for interference, plus a game misconduct. Polak was shaken up on the play, but returned to action as San Jose went on to a 4-1 victory.
“What elevates this hit to merit supplemental discipline is its extremeness lateness and the predatory nature of the hit,” explained DoPS director Patrick Burke.
Virtanen, 19, will miss Thursday’s rematch in San Jose and also Friday’s game in Anaheim.