Jack Eichel is leaving Buffalo… to get a second opinion on his injury. The Sabres superstar has been dealing with a lingering upper-body injury this season, which was aggravated on Sunday according to The Athletic’s John Vogl. Eichel returned to Buffalo while his team took on the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday and now as they head home, Eichel is leaving to see a specialist. It is still unknown what exactly is bothering Eichel and there have been contrasting reports as to its severity. While head coach Ralph Krueger stated that Eichel may miss only a week, other sources claim that the injury could be much more severe. Seeking a second opinion is certainly not an indication that this is an ailment that only requires a week of rest. Fortunately (?), the Sabres’ season is already lost and they have no reason to bypass proper treatment and rehab for Eichel in order to rush him back to action. While the All-Star center surely would like to return and improve upon a dismal season by his standards, there should be no pressure from the team. Perhaps only Krueger, the optimistic voice on Eichel’s injury, stands to gain from his quick return, as the head coach’s seat is very hot.
- Alex Pietrangelo has also left his team, abandoning the Golden Knights’ road trip in order to return to Las Vegas, head coach Peter DeBoer tells NHL.com’s Danny Webster. Pietrangelo is out “for the foreseeable future” due to an upper-body injury. Pietrangelo left the Knights’ Saturday tilt with the San Jose Sharks after blocking a shot and did not suit up on Monday. While the team has not disclosed the specific injury that their big off-season addition suffered, it is believed to be related to his left hand or wrist. DeBoer stated that he does not think that Pietrangelo will be out “long, long-term” but did say that there is not timetable for his return.
- The Boston Bruins have suffered through consistent injuries all season long and there is still a lack of concrete information on their extended absences. GM Don Sweeney spoke to the media and attempted to provide some insight, but had few details to offer. Forward Ondrej Kase, acquired at the 2020 trade deadline, has been out since the Bruins’ second game of the season after suffering his third head injury in a calendar year. He has resumed skating and is “eager to play”, but there is still no timetable for his return as they work him back cautiously from another concussion. Kase was expected to provide secondary scoring for the Bruins this season, which has again been a struggle for the team, and they will likely have to make a call on adding a forward at the trade deadline before they get to see much of Kase back in action. Sweeney also addressed the status of another injury-prone player, Kevan Miller. Miller missed all of last season with a fractured kneecap and recently suffered a “setback from a volume standpoint”, likely overworking his surgically-repaired knee. An absence from Miller, even just due to rest, is not unexpected but Sweeney stated that he too has not timeframe for a return. Jeremy Lauzon, who suffered a broken hand late last month, was given more of a ascertainable timeline to return, but according to Sweeney he appears to be on track to return later in his four-to-six-week window. Lauzon has already missed over two weeks following surgery, but he reportedly will still not be re-evaluated for another four weeks. As for Brandon Carlo, whose recent head injury was well-publicized, Sweeney offered no update other than to say he is feeling better, but not skating.
- The NHL has done a tremendous job of working their COVID Protocol Related Absences list down to just a handful of names over the past week or so. The league finally appears to have a handle on the virus, just in time for many players to soon start receiving vaccines. However, Coronavirus continues to rear its ugly head in other corners of the hockey world. On Wednesday night, an AHL game between the Binghamton Devils and Lehigh Valley Phantoms was suspended after the first period due to COVID-19 protocols affecting the Devils, NHL.com’s Mike Morreale reports. At the college level, the ECAC announced that Clarkson University, ranked second in the conference and 14th nationally, will be forced to end their season due to COVID. Not only will Clarkson miss out on both the ECAC and NCAA Tournaments, but the ECAC is now left with just three teams playing two games to determine a conference champ, with their Ivy League members also not competing this season. Clarkson becomes the second program, after Merrimack College, forced to end their season prematurely due to COVID.