The Buffalo Sabres are fading fast, and now they are going to have to stop their current slide without one of their best offensive players.
Jeff Skinner will miss the next 3-4 weeks due to an upper-body injury, the team announced on Saturday.
He was injured in the third period of the Sabres’ 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Friday night.
Skinner joined the Sabres before the 2018-19 season and went on to have a career year, scoring 40 goals. That helped him land an eight-year, $72 million contract to prevent him from hitting the free agent market. So far, things have not gone as planned for Skinner or the Sabres. As of Saturday, Skinner has just 11 goals and 19 total points in 39 games this season. That is pace that would fall far short of his production from his debut season in Buffalo.
Even with Skinner the Sabres have some pretty significant problems that do not seem to be going away. After starting with an 8-1-1 record, the Sabres are just 9-14-6 in the 29 games since. The Detroit Red Wings are the only team in the NHL with a worse points percentage during that stretch.
Because of the weakness of the Atlantic Division the Sabres are still just one point behind the Montreal Canadiens for a playoff spot. The problem is they are also just one point ahead of a Lightning team that has four games in hand.
They are five points back of the Wild Card teams.
In other words, they have a lot of work to do to end what is now an eight-year playoff drought.
If things do not turn around this would be the second year in a row a fast start has turned into disappointment. The Sabres had the best record in the league at the end of November a year ago thanks to a 10-game winning streak, only to miss the playoffs by 22 points.