The injury/illness bug has hit the Buffalo Sabres hard this month and the list grew longer in their 4-3 OT loss at Boston on Sunday.
Brian Gionta got leveled by Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski in the second period and left the ice woozy. It was a borderline suspendable hit that ultimately was deemed within the bounds of the National Hockey League Player Safety Department.
As is the case in the NHL, when your teammate is smoked by a hit, clean or not, it's expected that he be defended. In many cases it's silly as the gloves are dropped after a clean hit. Bartkowski's hit on an vulnerable Gionta was worthy of defense by a teammate.
Marcus Foligno sent the pass to Gionta which left him in a vulnerable position and Foligno immediately went to his fallen teammate's defense. Unfortunately he got too much helmet in his blind rage and busted up his hand.
Sabres head coach Ted Nolan was on WGR this morning for his weekly radio show and talked briefly about the whole incident. Although it seemed as if he really wasn't pleased that Bartkowski didn't even get a hearing for what looked like a head shot, he deferred citing the Sabres only being afforded one camera angle of the incident.
Nolan also said that Foligno could be out 1-2 months for trying to beat up a helmet saying that it was "more of a freak thing that happened" with Folilgno's hand.
Gionta and Foligno join the rest of the walking wounded as the Sabres have one more game before a four-day Christmas break.
Defensemen Mike Weber (Dec. 13) and Tyson Strachan (Dec. 20) are already on injured reserve as are forwards Cody McCormick (Dec. 13) and Torrey Mitchell (Dec. 16.)
Forward Matt Moulson will miss his third game because of "flu-like symptoms" and is back in Buffalo. Nolan stated that goalie Michal Neuvirth is also ill.
Tyler Myers, according to Nolan is out with a "lower body" injury and is on a week-to-week basis.
Coming back for tonight's game in Detroit will be forward Patrick Kaleta who's recovering from "flu-like symptoms" and according to Nolan on WGR this morning, he'll be joined on the flight by prospect Joel Armia (16th overall, 2011.)
Armia is in his second North American pro season after coming over from his native Finland in 2013. He had a rough start to the season last year as was injured in training camp. Armia played 54 regular season games for the Amerks in 2013-14 compiling 7 goals, 27 points and a minus-6 rating, but things seemed to click in the playoffs where he registered three goals and three assists in five games.
It's the first callup for Armia who's having a splendid year in Rochester. According to Kevin Oklobzija of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, timing is what kept Armia from his first NHL game. "[He] deserved a chance to play in November," wrote Oklobzija,"but the [Sabres] were healthy. Then Armia suffered an upper body injury in late November and couldn't play. So what happens? Forwards for the Sabres started to get hurt and Armia was unable to go up.
The Sabres were still ravaged by injuries when Armia came back, but he wasn't quite up to game-speed, nor did he have the fitness-level so Tim Schaller and Johan Larsson got the call. But tonight, it's game on for one of the best prospects in the organization.
Add it all up and eight skaters are out for the Sabres tonight. They will be replaced by call-ups Mikhail Grigorenko, Larsson, Schaller, Armia and Mark Pysyk, possibly a goalie as well considering that Nolan said Neuvirth had "no strength."
Luckily, the Amerks are off until Friday.
For posterity's sake, on November 26, 2011 the Sabres hosted the Washington Capitals. Out for the game were:
They were replaced by:
- Drew MacIntyre (G,) journeyman goalie--recalled11-14-11
- Corey Tropp (F,) one full AHL season--11-16-11
- TJ Brennan (D,) two full AHL seasons--11-21-11
- Zack Kassian (F,) 21 AHL games (three in 2011 post-season)--11-24-11
- Brayden McNabb (D,) 19 AHL games--11-26-11
- Paul Szczechura (F,) journeyman forward with 83 NHL and 214 AHL games in five seasons--11-26-11
- Luke Adam (C,) 21 yrs. old, second NHL season--rookie
- Jhonas Enroth (G,) 23 yrs. old, second NHL season--rookie
- Marc-Andre Gragnani (D,) 24 yrs. old, first full NHL season
- Nathan Gerbe (F,) 24 yrs. old, second full NHL season