Skinner believes he’s gotten better at avoiding big hits

It looks like Jeff Skinner might not end up missing too much time with his third career concussion, but the fact that he’s just 22 years old and already has a considerable history of head injuries is something of a concern.

Skinner feels he’s been doing a better job of putting himself in a position to avoid big hits, but obviously he can’t eliminate the risk entirely.

“There has been a lot of things come out and I’m aware of that,” he said, per the News & Observer. “But there’s always new stuff coming out. … It’s a concern, but for me the rehab here is top-notch. My focus is as long as I can come back and recover fully, you get that in my mind and you have that confidence to go back out there.

“It’s a physical game. I think everyone knows there’s going to be injuries. You want to try and avoid them as much as you can but they happen.”

In the case of his latest head injury, Skinner was hurt when Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen’s elbow connected with him. Niskanen argued that Skinner “spun around right into my elbow,” but regardless of who was at fault, Skinner feels he probably shouldn’t have spun and shot in that situation.

“It’s happened before in a game where you spin and shoot and the D-man holds there and tries to block a shot,” Skinner said. “He closed on me and I didn’t expect him to.”

He added that he wants to believe there aren’t players that are deliberately targeting the head of their opponents.

The 22-year-old might make his season debut on Thursday.

Video: Foligno scores, Sekera crashes hard into boards

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The Buffalo Sabres had a golden 2-on-1 opportunity midway through the first period of tonight’s game against Carolina and Marcus Foligno capitalized on it by burying the puck past goaltender Cam Ward.

At the same time Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera was skating hard to try and get back into the play, but he ended up tripping over Ward and crashed hard into the end boards. He went to the dressing room and didn’t return before the end of the first period.

Update: Carolina has announced that Sekera has an upper-body injury and won’t return tonight.

You can see the play in the video below, including Foligno’s goal and Sekera’s injury:

Here is more of the immediate aftermath of Sekera’s injury:

Carolina has already dealt with more than its fair share of injuries so far in 2014-15. Jeff Skinner (concussion), Pat Dwyer (lower body), Eric Staal (upper body), and Jordan Staal (leg) weren’t available tonight.

Skinner (concussion) feeling better, could play Thursday


From the News & Observer in Raleigh:

Jeff Skinner was back on the ice with the Canes at PNC Arena, wearing a yellow, no-contact jersey. Sidelined since Oct. 5 as he recovered from another concussion, he centered a line with Chris Terry and Zach Boychuk and got in a good workout.

Skinner will not play Tuesday but may be in the Canes’ lineup Thursday and make his season debut on the road game against the New York Rangers.

Skinner sounded fairly optimistic about his prognosis, saying the concussion he suffered “looked a lot worse than it felt. It looked bad because I couldn’t really stand up. But it cleared up pretty quick. I was dizzy but it cleared up pretty quick, which was nice.”

In case you forgot, this is how it looked:

NHL on NBCSN: Hurricanes, Sabres seek first win of 2014-15


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Carolina Hurricanes host the Buffalo Sabres at PNC Arena at 7 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

To put things mildly, things haven’t been going well for the Carolina Hurricanes (0-2-0) or the Buffalo Sabres (0-3-0) so far this season. It’s safe to say that Tuesday’s game will elicit more than a few references to Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and the 2015 NHL Draft in general.

Despite the “tanking” talk that might arise on social media, the bottom line is that both teams should be motivated to grab that elusive first win of 2014-15.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $8,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $800. Starts Tuesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The Hurricanes will come into tonight’s game limping, as they’re essentially running out of Staal brothers thanks to some really bad injury luck. With Eric Staal and Jordan Staal on the sidelines and Jeff Skinner dealing with another worrisome concussion, Carolina fans must wonder if luck will come this team’s way.

Tonight’s matchup may represent a smidgen of luck, as fatigue is likely to weigh against the Sabres after Monday’s ugly 5-1 loss against the Anaheim Ducks. On paper, this seems like a great opportunity for a Hurricanes team that fell to the New York Islanders by one goal in each of their first losses; Buffalo’s -10 goal differential is easily the worst in this young season, and it’s not as if goaltending is the main cause of the Sabres’ woes.

That said, the Sabres are playing for pride as much as they’re shooting for their first victory. When your coach deems your efforts to be at a youth hockey level, you know that there’s a lot of room for improvement.

“We need to go into Carolina and win,” Tyler Ennis told the Buffalo News. “We need to be mad. We need to get angry. We need to play really hard, and we’re going to.”

Some bright lights for each team

The Sabres already possess some of the promising young pieces they’ll need to dig out of this hole.

Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons are the Sabres’ only players who’ve scored goals so far this season, with two apiece. Girgensons and Cody Hodgson (off to a slow start with zero points) are among the players expected to help turn things around.

Drew Stafford is also off to a nice start with three assists in as many games.

The Hurricanes are banged up, but Jiri Tlusty comes into Tuesday’s game on a hot streak after generating the second hat trick of his NHL career on Saturday. Alexander Semin could be another player to watch with two assists so far.


These two teams are hurting right now, but one will finally get in the “win” column after tonight’s contest.

Hard-luck ‘Canes lose (another) Staal, Dwyer to injury


Already without the services of top-six forwards Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner, the Carolina Hurricanes were dealt another significant blow on Monday as captain Eric Staal (upper body) was ruled out of tomorrow’s game against Buffalo, along with checking winger Patrick Dwyer.

Staal, who had two points in Carolina’s first two games of the season, was injured on Saturday night against the Islanders on this Matt Martin hit from behind:

Staal, who appeared woozy on the play, left the game momentarily but returned to play parts of the second and third period before exiting for good with 11 minutes left in the final frame.

Dwyer, one of Carolina’s top penalty killers, also left Saturday’s game in the third period and didn’t return. The 31-year-old’s presence will be missed in the lineup; Dwyer scored a career-high 22 points last year for the ‘Canes and finished third among all forwards in hits, with 107.