Buffalo Sabres fans received some unwanted news ahead of Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers: the team’s captain and leading scorer, Jack Eichel, will not play due to an upper-body injury, the team announced just prior to puck-drop.
While the cause and extent of his injury are unknown, the Sabres were forced to go to battle without their most lethal weapon. Eichel was originally slotted in the starting lineup, but the late change drew Conor Sheary into the game instead.
The Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington speculated on Twitter that Eichel had “been feeling lousy for several days. Particularly hoarse during his pregame presser Tuesday in Toronto. But #Sabres announced upper body is why he’s out. They would have said illness if it was the flu.”
Following the 6-1 loss, The Athletic’s John Vogl reported that head coach Ralph Krueger was “very strange” when discussing Eichel’s injury.
“It was something that evolved in warm-ups, so we‘ll just look at the situation and get back to you tomorrow on that. . . Let’s not speak about the specifics right now. We’ll fill you in once we’ve assessed the situation,” Kreuger said.
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Eichel’s 50 points (24 goals, 26 assists) lead the team by a wide 18-point margin. The Massachusetts native’s outstanding performance this season also places him fifth on the NHL leaderboard. He ranks second in the league in goals behind Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak (28).
Unfortunately, the forward’s 17-game point streak will officially come to a close, per the league, as streaks are measured in consecutive team games played.
Buffalo (16-13-7) has dropped its last two meetings and sits 11 points behind Boston for the division lead with 39.