BUFFALO, N.Y. – Sabres coach Ted Nolan knocked twice on the wooden podium for good luck in hoping his team can finish the final week of the season without any more injuries.
So far, the fates haven’t been kind for a last-place team that’s losing players and games at an alarming rate.
Nolan provided the latest injury update Monday by announcing goalie Nathan Lieuwen and defenceman Chad Ruhwedel will miss the remainder of the season after being diagnosed with concussions. Defenceman Christian Ehrhoff’s playing status is uncertain against Detroit on Tuesday. Ehrhoff was struck by a puck and required stitches to close a gash on his right ear.
All three were hurt on Sunday, in a 5-2 loss at Philadelphia.
Ruhwedel was hurt following what was deemed by the NHL to be an illegal check to the head by Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo. The league suspended Rinaldo on Monday for four games without pay.
Lieuwen was hurt during a collision with Flyers forward Jay Rosehill.
“I don’t believe in luck, but it’s just been one of those things,” Nolan said, before tapping the podium. “We’ve got four games to go. Hopefully, we can get through this unscathed.”
Lieuwen’s injury comes at a time when the Sabres are already thin at goaltending with co-starters Jhonas Enroth and Michael Neuvirth both sidelined. The injuries forced the Sabres to call up both Lieuwen and Matt Hackett from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.
They’ll have to call up another goalie to serve as backup and become the seventh goalie to dress for a Sabres’ game this season.
And then there’s the rest of Buffalo’s banged-up lineup which played Philadelphia with 10 players on its injury report. It’s a group that includes defencemen Tyler Myers (undisclosed) and Henrik Tallinder (lower body) and forward Drew Stafford (undisclosed).
At least, some are scheduled to return to a team that, with a 21-48-9 record, has four games left and guaranteed to finish in last place.
Nolan said forwards Marcus Foligno (knee), Chris Stewart (lower body) and Torrey Mitchell (undisclosed) have a chance to return to play against the Red Wings.
“It’s pretty crazy. I haven’t seen anything like this,” said forward Zenon Konopka, who has missed seven games with a back injury. “It’s tough when you’re not in the lineup and missing games. You feel guilty.”