For the last week, Evander Kane had been buzzing around his coach's ear.
He was ready to play. Come on. He was ready to be back in the lineup already, ready to contribute to his team which has been struggling to find any offense.
Wednesday the chatter stopped as Kane returned to the Sabres lineup in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators in KeyBank Center.
Kane, you recall, went down in the first game of the season, playing just 12 minutes and 43 seconds before going torso-first into the end boards. The collision cracked his ribs and Kane sat for the next 11 games.
"I talked to Evander probably more than anyone," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "I think he’s been eager to get back. The last week and he's been working hard off the ice. ... He's gone through quite a bit the last five, six days to get himself ready to get back in there."
Kane credited Dennis Miller, who works with the players on rehabilitation and development, with ramping up the work the last week.
"I worked with Dennis Miller our on-ice conditioning coach and me and him had a real good week of skating," Kane said. "He makes it easy for players to come back. I give a lot of credit to him.":
The injury itself certainly was scary. Most people heard the collision of Kane into the endboards. In recalling the incident, Kane said he "couldn't breathe for a good 20 seconds. That was the most alarming part but I feel good now."
Well "feel good" may be a relative term.
"It’s not feeling pretty good but it's well enough where I can play and contribute," Kane said. "I feel I can be a difference-maker on the team. I’m looking forward to proving that.
"I don’t think anything really healed. It’s healed enough where I can play and come back. I'm sure there will be a little bit of pain through the course of the next couple weeks but it’s nothing I haven’t outworked before."
Kane played on a line with Sam Reinhart and Kyle Okposo and was a significant factor in the overtime period. He led all forwards with 22:9 of ice time and of his six shot attempts, two were on net.
"We had opportunities but I think our overall play could have been a lot cleaner," Kane said. "At certain points when we didn't have the puck we were sloppy. We didn't make clean passes and we didn't come through the neutral zone clean enough to really attack their defense and come in with speed and get even more quality opportunities for ourselves. That's what you have to do in order to win."
Jack Eichel hit the four-week mark of his high-ankle sprain which he suffered before the season opener.
"He is seeing the doctor today and the possibility of progressing in his workouts and where he might be," Bylsma said by way of an update. "I don’t want to suggest it’s going to be today or tomorrow or the next day that he’s getting on the ice but he’s progressing quite nicely, he’s been working out at another level the last four or five days and hopefully he continues to progress to getting to the ice soon."
In other injury news, Hudson Fasching who has missed four games with a groin injury, took the morning skate on Wednesday but was assigned to Rochester later Wednesday.
"It felt pretty good. Feels good to be back with the team that’s for sure just back around the guys," Fasching said after the skate. "It's not 100 percent. I don't want to come back too early. It's a long season and I want to be healthy. It's just testing it out more with the team skate with unpredictable moves and quick movements."
Also missing was Tyler Ennis. Bylsma said that the forward, who played just over seven minutes in the 4-0 loss at Boston on Monday, "is dealing with an injury and will not be playing for us tonight. It’s a mid-body injury. It’s attached to all, upper and lower. It’s really still in the evaluation on how exactly what it is."
Among the noteworthy tidbits as the Sabres struggle offensively is the big old zero in goals for the team's defensemen.
Bylsma said he's "not necessarily concerned they don’t have a goal. If they hit one of those empty nets … I wound’t feel like ‘oh we got a goal and we’re better.’ I think one area we need to get better at is providing offense from our defensemen, using our defensemen, getting them involved in our five-on-five game offensively. If we had one,two or three (defensive) goals right now that would still be the case."
The Sabres announced plans for their annual Military Appreciation Game on Friday.
The team will offer all active, reserve, National Guard and retired military personnel the opportunity to purchase tickets in the 300 Level for $25. To order these tickets, please visit sabres.com/military. Military members will also receive a 25 percent discount at the Sabres Store on Nov. 11.
The team will wear special camouflage jerseys during warm-ups which will be auctioned on sabres.com/auctions through 9 p.m. on Nov. 20. Proceeds will benefit the Buffalo Sabres Foundation.
In support of active military, Crown Royal and the Sabres will be collecting the iconic velvet Crown Royal bags from fans at KeyBank Center. All collected bags will be filled with personal care items and donated to active military personnel. Crown Royal will also make a donation to United Service Organizations (USO) for each bag that is collected. Fans who drop off a velvet bag at KeyBank Center will receive a 10 percent discount at the Sabres Store.
The Buffalo Sabres Foundation will donate a total of $10,000 to the Veterans One-stop Center, WNY Heroes, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, and the Altamont Homeless Veterans Program.
During the game, information tables will be set up around the 100 Level by the Veterans One-stop Center of Western New York as well as the WNY Heroes, who are bringing some of their dogs from their service dogs program. The United Way will also have a table selling “Operation United” T-shirts.