Tyler Ennis, fresh off a career-best season and an impressive showing on the world stage, walked into training camp and predicted good things for himself.
“I should have a big year,” the Sabres forward said in September.
Unfortunately, the word “forgettable” has replaced big.
Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma announced Saturday that Ennis is week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered Wednesday in Washington. The forward missed his second straight game Saturday as the Sabres lost to Detroit, 4-3, but the absence goes back much further than that. Ennis has played in just 23 of the Sabres’ 40 games because of various injuries.
“He hasn’t been able to get to where he needs to be to be effective for our team this year,” Bylsma said in First Niagara Center.
Ennis started the season just fine, putting up three goals and five points in the opening nine games. He then missed two games at the end of October because of a lower-body injury. He failed to score in 10 straight before getting hurt again.
An upper-body injury suffered Nov. 23 in St. Louis kept Ennis out for 12 games. He returned for the Dec. 19 game against Chicago and went scoreless in four games before the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin ran him over Wednesday. Bylsma said this upper-body injury is unrelated to the last one.
Ennis has just three goals and 11 points in his 23 games.
“I know he was just getting up to speed and getting back into the speed of the game and gets injured again,” Bylsma said. “It’s unfortunate.”
Chad Johnson’s numbers took a hit Saturday. The Sabres goaltender entered the start with a .944 save percentage in his last five games, but he stopped just 19 of 23 shots (.826) to take the loss. He fell to 10-11-2 with a .914 save percentage and 2.48 goals-against average.
It’s a tough time to be a Buffalo goalie. Rookie Linus Ullmark is 0-3 in his last three starts despite a .925 save percentage and 2.07 goals-against average. The rookie allowed two goals to New Jersey, Washington and the New York Islanders but suffered a pair of 2-0 losses and a 2-1 setback.
“Unfortunately for Linus, we haven’t been able to get him a win with his performances,” Bylsma said. “He’s gone and done a good job in keeping a team to two or under, and we haven’t been able to get the win for him.”
Ullmark started the season with a 4-2 record, but he’s gone 1-7-2 since with a .907 save percentage during the slide. Overall, he’s 5-9-2 with a .914 save percentage and 2.56 goals-against average.
Carlo Colaiacovo is clearly the odd man out on the Sabres’ defense. He sat for the 11th straight time. Mike Weber, meanwhile, played for the 12th game in a row.
“I like the way Mike Weber has gone in for us and played,” Bylsma said. “He’s played real well in what opportunity he’s had. He’s gotten repeated games. It’s probably prevented Carlo from getting in.”
The Sabres’ blue-line depth chart will be altered this week as Mark Pysyk is expected back from a broken foot.
Aside from the scoreboard, the Sabres won nearly every statistical category against Detroit. They had a 35-23 shot edge, a 25-11 advantage in hits, and blocked 19 shots compared to seven for the Red Wings. Buffalo won 52 percent of the faceoffs, with Ryan O’Reilly going 16-12 for 57 percent.