How the Sabres current winless streak compares to recent streaks

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It has been a tough season for the Buffalo Sabres. They currently find themselves at the bottom of the NHL standings with the league’s worst record and on track to miss the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season, a streak that would match the longest in NHL history. That is a record that is currently only held by the Edmonton Oilers from 2007 to 2016, and the Florida Panthers from 2001 to 2011.

Their best player, Jack Eichel, is injured and the subject of trade speculation. They changed coaches for the sixth time in 10 years. Jeff Skinner, their $9 million winger, has been relegated to fourth line duty and has been a healthy scratch as his goal scoring has completely dried up. And Taylor Hall, their big offseason acquisition, has struggled through the worst offensive season of his career and might be a trade chip over the next month.

Making matters worse is that they find themselves on a 13-game winless streak that is starting to reach historic levels. At least when it comes to recent NHL history.

[Related: Taylor Hall trade would benefit everybody]

Longest winless streaks in shootout era

The Sabres current streak is just one game away from matching the longest winless streak in the shootout era (14 games), a mark that has been held by the 2009-10 Carolina Hurricanes, 2010-11 New York Islanders, and the 2014-15 Sabres. Keep in mind that Sabres team was the very early part of their rebuild when fans were actually hoping the team would lose for a chance to get Connor McDavid (they lost that draft lottery and ended up with Eichel).

The 2005-06 St. Louis Blues and 2009-10 Edmonton Oilers are the only other teams in the shootout era that have gone at least 13 games.

So it is pretty rare company to go through a stretch like this.

They are still not likely to reach the all-time record

The good news here is they are not going to reach all-time historic levels of futility, a level that is usually limited to the worst-of-the-worst expansion teams and some Original Six era teams.

Here is the list of longest winless streaks all time.

Winnipeg Jets: 30 Games, 1980-81
Kansas City Scouts: 27 Games, 1975-76
Washington Capitals: 25 Games, 1975-76
New York Rangers: 21, Games, 1943-44
Chicago Blackhawks: 21 Games, 1950-51
Ottawa Senators: 21 Games, 1992-93

When will the Sabres get back in the win column?

The trouble for the Sabres this season is they are not only a flawed team with major question marks at important positions, they are playing an unbalanced schedule in what might be the toughest division in the NHL with several Stanley Cup contenders.

The only team they have beaten since January 27 is the New Jersey Devils, going 3-2-1 against them in six games during that stretch.

Against the rest of the division during that stretch they are 0-16-2.

Their game against Boston on Saturday has been postponed, but after that their next eight games are against the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Bruins, and Philadelphia Flyers. Maybe they get the Rangers? Catch an injured, shorthanded Penguins team? It is going to be a challenge every night.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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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.