The Tim Connolly Hate Club just got their wish: TC will miss Game Seven after being crunched from behind by Flyers’ captain Mike Richards.
The injury further depletes the talent level of the Buffalo Sabres – primarily at center, where the team is already without Derek Roy and Jochen Hect. Paul Gaustad, Rob Niedermayer, Nathan Gerbe, or Brad Boyes will assume first line duties.
The injury also will hit the penalty kill crew hard, a crew that was already minus one Jason Pominville. Lindy Ruff will also have to dig deep and find someone to win faceoffs besides Paul Gaustad.
Looking beyond this series, depending on the severity of TC’s injury and how far the Sabres go in the playoffs, this could have been the last game for Connolly in a Sabres uniform. The unrestricted free agent has been tagged by the media as the most likely candidate to walk out of town during the free agency sweepstakes. The challenge will be how to replace him: the list of available talented pivots is a short one.
Roy, Hecht, Pominville, and now Connolly. It’s up to the grinders now, folks.
Back to the hit, and it was an ugly one:
“That’s the kind of hit the league has been talking about is dangerous,” Ryan Miller said to the media in Buffalo. “They better seriously consider looking at that one. It’s unbelievable.”
“We lose a good player,” Sabres’ coach Lindy Ruff told the media. “I think if the league looks at it the way I saw it on video, they’ll lose a good player, too. That’ll be even, too.”
Richards has never been suspended by the NHL – not even for his egregious hit on David Booth last season. Don’t forget that the Flyers’ captain, who was given a five-minute major for elbowing Patrick Kaleta in Game 4, has complained stridently that the Sabres have been “getting away with murder.” He’s already caught the league’s ear.
We’ll see if the league is still listening.
Spin the NHL wheel of justice, folks (again).
UPDATE: Derek Roy is expected to play in Game Seven, according Lindy Ruff.
UPDATE: There will be no suspension for Richards, according to various internet reports. Meanwhile, Roy, Hecht and Sekera are all participants in the Sabres’ partice today.