Feb. 7 – Paul Gaustad severs a tendon in his ankle after being cut with an errant skate blade during the game against the Senators. Out for the remainder of the season.
Feb. 10 – Jaroslav Spacek breaks left hand; out 4-6 weeks.
Feb. 13 – Tim Connolly suffers a stress fracture in his leg. Out 2-3 weeks + more rehabbing from post-concussion syndrome suffered last season.
Feb. 15 – Maxim Afinogenov breaks left wrist; out 6 weeks.
Feb. 16 – Jiri Novotny – re-aggravates a nagging high ankle sprain. Out 3-6 weeks.
Feb. 16 – Ales Kotalik strains MCL in right knee. Out 4-6 weeks.
Feb. 20 – Daniel Paille breaks a finger. Out 3-4 weeks.
Despite the Buffalo Sabres now resembling an AHL team with all the call-ups from Rochester, they’ve gone 7-1-1 in February, thanks to some gritty play from the kids and some timely goal-scoring from the few veterans that have avoided the infirmary. After sleep-walking through most of January, putting in inconsistent and often half-assed effort night after night, it looks like the injuries turned a light on in the Sabres’ collective head and got them going. A little injection of hungry youth from their AHL affiliate hasn’t hurt. That being said, the team is sick and tired of the increasing roster of wounded players and that frustration finally boiled over Thursday night at home against Ottawa. The video (and Rick Jeanneret) speaks for itself.
What a game. The two teams play again on Saturday night, but I wouldn’t expect too many fireworks. Both teams will be warned by the league office and the refs that any “extra-curricular” activity will be dealt with severely. The league might not have to take that kind of position if they actually dealt with cheap shots and injuries when they happen. Alexander Ovechkin got off with a joke of a fine after running Daniel Briere into the boards from behind some months back. Some idiot took a cheap shot swing at Jaroslav Spacek from behind not long after that. Neither was severely punished, so what incentive is there for that kind of behavior to stop? You could ask the players to better police themselves, but with the increasing restrictions on fighting in the league, their hands are tied unless they’d like an automatic 10-game suspension courtesy of the instigator rule.
The league needs to get rid of the instigator rule and start punishing goons who take runs at defenseless players. If you give the players the ability to protect themselves through self-enforcement, you won’t see a cringe-worthy head injury every year, as has been the average the past decade. It’s enough.
All that being said, it’s nice to know that the Ottawa Senators are still a bunch of whiny weaklings whom we enjoy taking to the woodshed whenever we fell like it. I was impressed with goaltender Ray Emery, though. He seems to be the only Senator with a modicum of fortitude. He’s come a long way from last year’s playoffs to become a pretty decent goaltender. Good for him.
Oh, at press time, there’s now a report stating Drury is experiencing “concussion-like” symptoms today and will be out indefinitely. Hooray.