Not a great day for Buffalo on the injury update front.
On Thursday, head coach Dan Bylsma said that forward Tyler Ennis and d-man Mark Pysyk are now both out week-to-week with their upper- and lower-body injuries, respectively.
Ennis has been out of the lineup since Nov. 23, missing Buffalo’s last four games as a result. The former first-round pick was having a fairly decent year (for a Sabres club that’s struggled offensively), scoring 10 points in 19 games while averaging just under 19 minutes per night.
As for Pysyk, he’s been out of the lineup since mid-October, and has missed the last seven games. Like Ennis, he was a pretty regular fixture in the lineup to start the year, averaging over 16 minutes through the first 18 games.
With Pysyk out, the Sabres have been rolling of a defensive unit comprised of Zach Bogosian, Carlo Colaiacovo, Cody Franson, Josh Gorges, Jake McCabe and Rasmus Ristolainen.
Another injured d-man, Mike Weber, has been limited with a knee problem.
Switzerland has found Glen Hanlon’s replacement as national team head coach.
Patrick Fischer, who spent the 2006-07 campaign playing for the Coyotes, has been named the country’s bench boss, per IIHF.com.
Fischer, 40, had a decorated career in Switzerland’s National League A before jumping the pond and landing in the desert nine years ago. Though his NHL career was brief — just 27 games — it led him back to Europe and, eventually, taking a gig with Swiss league powerhouse HC Lugano (he became the club’s head coach in 2013).
Internationally, Fischer represented Switzerland on numerous occasions. He also served as an assistant coach to Sean Simpson for one of the country’s best-ever showings, a silver medal at the ’13 Worlds in Sweden/Finland.
“As a boy it had always been a dream to play for the national team. I stopped as a player, became a coach and now I’m again with the national team to make another dream come true. It’s a great day for me,” Fischer said, per IIHF. “It was about time to rely on Swiss coaches and to have a clear vision from the men’s national team to the juniors. We will work hard to justify the confidence we got. I’m a proud Swiss, I know the mentality and I can bring players forward.”
Fischer’s appointment comes after Hanlon’s contract “was dissolved by mutual agreement” in October.
The Colorado Avalanche will get a nice piece back in the lineup tonight, as they look for consecutive wins for just the second time this season.
Veteran forward Alex Tanguay, who’s missed the last 11 games with a knee injury, is expected to draw back into the lineup when the Avs take on the Rangers at MSG.
Tanguay, 36, was off to a decent start prior to getting hurt, scoring six points in his first 14 games while averaging 17:35 TOI per night. He was, at times, playing on one of the club’s top scoring lines next to Jarome Iginla.
Where he fits in the lineup tonight remains to be seen. The Avs are coming off a 2-1 win in New Jersey on Tuesday, on goals from Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie.
The World Junior Hockey Championships are reportedly coming to Buffalo.
Per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, USA Hockey will announce that Buffalo has been chosen as the host site for the 2018 Worlds, beating out finalists Pittsburgh and St. Louis in the process.
Update: USA Hockey has all but let the cat out of the bag, announcing a press conference on Friday at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo.
It won’t come as a huge surprise that Buffalo got the nod. Since the Terry Pegula-backed HarborCenter opened last year, the site — along with the connected First Niagara Center, home of the Sabres — has become a hotbed of hockey activity.
Buffalo was host to the 2015 daft combine and will host again in ’16, along with the NHL Entry Draft. It’s also home to NCAA outfit Canisius, the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League and, this past spring, hosted the ’15 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships.
As for the World Juniors chronology, the ’16 event will be held in Helsinki, Finland, followed by the ’17 tournament in the shared sites of Montreal and Toronto.
Buffalo last hosted the tournament in 2011, when Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko led the Russians to gold.
Pegula, of course, owns both the Sabres and the NFL’s Bills.
A milestone marker from Pavel Datsyuk, an outstanding individual effort from Evgeni Malkin and some terrific team play from Tampa — featuring Steve Stamkos‘ no-look pass — highlight the latest installment of Goals of the Week.