BUFFALO – Sabres captain Jason Pominville has watched the scary video of Ottawa superstar Erik Karlsson getting his Achilles lacerated by Matt Cooke’s skate Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
Karlsson, the reigning Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s top defenseman, will miss the rest of the season. His rehab will be long and grueling.
Pominville knows well. On April 22, 2011 in Philadelphia, James van Riemsdyk’s skate completely sliced a tendon in the winger’s lower leg.
It’s often forgotten because Pominville only missed the final two games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal, but he endured a long and tough road back to the ice. He finally skated again late that June. Luckily, only a tendon was sliced.
“Very fortunate to be able to get it fixed and back playing at 100 percent,” Pominville said Friday prior to the Sabres’ 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins inside the First Niagara Center.
Pominville wasn’t wearing the Kevlar socks that help prevent cuts that night. Karlsson reportedly wasn’t, either.
“It was a pretty big cut and pretty deep cut,” Pominville said about his injury. “So I had a tough time seeing how socks would’ve helped that much. But on the other hand, I think it would’ve helped to have them on.
“I wear them now. I think because of that a lot of guys are wearing them. It’s something that’s pretty easy to get used to. Why take the chance and not have them on?”
Pominville’s not sure if Cooke, who’s notorious for his dirty hits, meant to injure Karlsson.
“It would be tough to say that he meant to do that or not,” Pominville said. “I think you’re hoping that it wasn’t on purpose. If it was, I don’t know where the game is really headed. It would just be really disappointing.”
Rookie defenseman T.J. Brennan was scratched again.
Scott sat Tuesday’s 2-0 loss in Ottawa, his first healthy scratch this season. The enforcer had a memorable knockout of the Bruins’ Shawn Thornton on Jan. 31.
Sulzer, despite three goals and a plus-4 rating, has been scratched twice this season.
It appeared he was going to sit again Friday following the morning skate. But seven defensemen participated in the warm-up.
Sulzer had four goals in 89 NHL appearances prior to this season.
Can he keep up this pace?
“Don’t jinx me!” he joked to a reporter.
There are many benefits of sitting an 18-year-old rookie, Claude Julien said Friday. The Boston Bruins coach sat slick winger Tyler Seguin, his teenage phenom, occasionally two years ago.
The Sabres plan to sit, Mikhail Grigorenko, their 18-year-old freshman, at times this season, a tactic Sabres coach Lindy Ruff believes will benefit his top prospect’s development. Ruff scratched the Russian on Sunday against Boston.
Seguin played 74 games in 2010-11 before watching 18 of the 25 playoff contests, including the first two rounds, during the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run.
He responded with three goals in the Eastern Conference final and 29 goals and 67 points last season.
“I think one of the (things) is for them to understand what you’re trying to do,” Julien said about the youngsters. “If a player accepts it easily, you’re disappointed. But you don’t expect him to whine about it and sulk about it. But I think when it’s, I guess, introduced properly and explained properly, I think there’s a lot of benefits to it.
“I think the guys that we’ve done with that in the past have really grown from that. You don’t like sitting out, so what does that do? It builds character. Yeah, you’re angry inside, but you watch the game from up top and you see what’s going on and it certainly clarifies a lot of things. I know for a fact a lot of players have said it’s done them good to watch from the top and see a little more what’s going on.
“It’s worked for us. We feel confident that sometimes patience and then sitting guys out for the right reasons has helped a guy develop the proper way.”