BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Buffalo Sabres enter the weekend dealing with injuries to two key players and uncertainty as to whether coach Ralph Krueger is going to end the benching of high-priced forward Jeff Skinner.
Starting goalie Linus Ullmark will miss at least both games of Buffalo’s weekend series against the Philadelphia Flyers due to a lower body injury. Captain Jack Eichel is considered day to day after a lower-body injury made him a last-minute scratch before Buffalo’s 4-3 overtime loss to New Jersey on Thursday.
And Krueger still wasn’t ready on Friday to say whether Skinner will resume playing after a three-game benching, while noting the reasoning behind his decision was related to team culture.
“We are an environment of accountability and you need to earn your keep here on this group every single game and every single practice,” Krueger said. “It’s about different ways of growing people in different positions, and that’s what this is about, is working together with Jeff to make him a better Jeff Skinner for the game today.”
Skinner skated on the Sabres’ fourth line in practice Friday, which was a promotion after he worked out with the team’s taxi squad members a day earlier. Krueger would only say Skinner would be available to play Saturday.
Skinner said he isn’t sure what lesson he was supposed to learn from missing games.
“I think that’s a tricky one, because ... I’ve watched a lot of hockey games obviously, I’ve played in a lot of hockey games, and I don’t think you learn anything extra by not being out there,” Skinner said. “I try to focus on what’s important, and what’s important is moving forward.”
Some two weeks since returning following a two-week COVID-19-forced pause to their schedule, the Sabres are moving from one crisis to another while in the midst of a 2-5-1 skid.