Sabres fans seem to be running out of patience

Sabres fans losing patience Duane
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The Buffalo Sabres face a grim possibility: losing their Duanes.

Linus Ullmark‘s significant injury made it clear(er) that the Sabres’ playoff drought seems likely to extend to nine consecutive seasons. Apparently that realization is pushing fans – including the most hardcore ones – to a boiling point.

In at least one case, that boiling point created quality entertainment.

Duane channels Sabres fans’ disdain

If you want to hear passion and anger from a fan, listen to caller Duane’s passionate rant to WGGR 550’s Schopp and the Bulldog. Then wonder: when was the last time you felt as strongly about sports (or anything?) as Duane does here?

Delightful, at least if this Twitter user is the Duane, and thus is enjoying the attention from becoming something of a viral sensation.

Someone even spliced it with music from “Titanic,” which might double as a way to preserve the clip:

Duane has become something of a mascot for fan discontent. Sabres fans have responded to various team tweets with references, sometimes merely responding with “Duane.” #WeareallDuane appears to be the most frequently used hashtag, but it’s far from the only one.

Here’s hoping that others follow Duane’s advice, then, and use their voices “responsibly.” USA Today’s Bradley Gelber took screenshots that indicate the Pegula family has dealt with harassment. As we’ve seen from innumerable Internet movements in just about every niche, people can go from passionate to toxic at the drop of a hat. Here’s hoping that this doesn’t end up that way, or if it has, that such ugly behavior stops.

Sabres fans upset by mistakes both big and small

Because, no doubt about it, it’s understandable if Sabres fans are losing their patience.

Again, the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010-11. The Sabres last won a series in 2006-07. Fans suffered through some of the worst NHL teams (and overall sports teams) of the past decade during this span. There’s been recent growth, but sometimes raised expectations only make the lows feel lower.

And, when those feelings fester, little things start to feel like bigger annoyances.

Fans and Sabres media alike noted mistakes such as Dave Andreychuk’s jersey being spelled “Andreychuckduring “Aud Night” and poor execution for other throwback festivities. When teams are competitive, mistakes like these usually get laughed off. When losing lingers, people can sometimes fixate.

(Photo by John Crouch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The easiest answer is to say that winning would solve your problems. That playoff runs could stop a Duane drain.

Yet, with the Sabres facing long odds to make the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs (they’re 10 points out of the final East wild-card spot), fans might need to wait until next year — again.

Don’t be shocked if there are a bunch of Duane-related signs as the Sabres host Montreal on Thursday. Fans get a bunch of opportunities, actually, with eight of their next nine games in Buffalo.

All of that home-cooking might not spark an unlikely playoff run, but the Sabres at least have a chance to make their hardcore fans happier.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.