BUFFALO (LGS) — The Buffalo Sabres have lost exactly half of their starting defensemen since the deadline day deal which sent Brian Campbell to San Jose. Just a few days after losing Jaroslav Spacek and Dmitri Kalinin for an extended period of time, already hobbled Nathan Paetsch will be out indefinitely with a concussion.
On March 8th against the Carolina Hurricanes, Paetsch fell awkwardly into the boards and was slow to his skates, but returned later in the game. In the following game against the New York Rangers, Paetsch was hit cleanly by Sean Avery but suffered what was called a whiplash injury after falling awkwardly into the corner boards. After being down on the ice for a few minutes (and a Rangers goal), Paetsch returned to the ice in the same game. That would not be the case for Paetsch against the Penguins on Wednesday night.
Pens enforcer Georges Laraque skated into Paetsch well behind the play and connected with an elbow to the jaw. The result was Paetsch laying face down on the ice motionless for nearly four minutes. The medical staff sent out a stretcher, but Paetsch eventually left the ice on his own power.
Laraque has been suspended by the NHL for three games, and will lose salary in excess of $20,000 while serving the suspension.
The Sabres, already down to 5 active defensemen, utilized captain Jason Pominville in their Thursday practice session as a sixth blueliner. Pominville was already preparing to play that role had Paetsch been unable to go as a result of the whiplash injury.
Spin: The upside to the injury plague on defense is that the organization can place some responsibility on rookies Andrej Sekera and Mike Weber to test their NHL talent. Weber played well, actually tallying an assist on the Hecht goal and ended the night as a +2 in a 7-3 loss. Sekera played a team high 29 shifts and saw 23:53 of ice time, but ended as a -3.
The Sabres have a contract set to expire with veteran Dmitri Kalinin, who most fans feel will not return next season. Kalinin is the most tenured defenseman in the organization.