The injury news for the Buffalo Sabres went from bad to worse on Saturday just hours before the team's evening matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins at KeyBank Center.
While addressing the media Saturday morning, Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger gave an update on team captain Jack Eichel, who has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury.
"I would say he's out for the foreseeable future, and because of the nature of the injury, we can't put a fixed date on that. We're expecting it to go on a little longer."
Krueger also added that the team does not know for certain what the timeframe is on Eichel's recovery.
Eichel was in a puck battle along the end-boards on Sunday afternoon in the third period against the Islanders when he awkwardly got his head caught along the glass, causing him some discomfort in his neck area.
While the nature of his injury has not been categorized, he was unable to finish the team's road trip in Philadelphia just two days later against the Flyers. He then sought a second opinion from outside New York State, which then put his timeline for a possible return at the minimum of 7-10 days.
Former TSN hockey analyst and NHL defenseman Aaron Ward tweeted shortly after the Krueger conference call on Saturday that he's hearing Eichel is expected to miss around eight weeks of action. If that timeline is correct and the team expects Eichel to return eight weeks from now, that would put his return on the final day of the regular season, May 8, when Buffalo wraps up the 2020-21 campaign against the Penguins.
The 2020-21 season has been a struggle for the 24-year-old centerman. Eichel has just two goals this season after being on a 43-goal pace the year before. Eichel's 16 assists this season still lead the team, but he has been hampered with a pair of other injuries throughout the season, dating as far back as before training camp.
Saturday's news is tough for the Sabres with injuries continuing to pile up for a team that has lost nine-consecutive games.
Buffalo has already been without Zemgus Girgensons (hamstring) for the entirety of the season, while defenseman Jake McCabe (knee) and Will Borgen (arm), as well as goalie Linus Ullmark (lower-body injury) have also been dealt longer-term injuries.
The Sabres will also be without 20-year-old rookie forward Dylan Cozens on Saturday. He suffered an injury in the third period of Thursday's game against the Penguins when taking a hit from forward Zach Aston-Reese.
"Dylan Cozens remains day-to-day, he will not be able to play today," Krueger said Saturday morning. "Because of the nature of the injury, we'll be looking at that day-to-day."
Cozens' first season in the NHL has been an impressive one with three goals and two assists for five points in 20 games played. He took Eichel's spot on the top line on Tuesday between Taylor Hall on the left wing and Sam Reinhart on the right side.
Faceoff on Saturday is set for 7 p.m. EST with the Paul William Beltz Pregame Show set for 6 p.m. EST with Brian Koziol on WGR Sports Radio 550.