By Bill Hoppe
BUFFALO — Early in the Sabres’ 5-3 loss to Pittsburgh on March 30, Tyler Myers took a shot off his face and fell down on the ice. It looked bad.
The 22-year-old was fine, however, and he got up and kept playing.
In the third period, when Paul’s Martin’s harmless-looking shot hit Myers’ skate, few noticed and the defenseman finished the game.
“It just felt like a little stinger like any other day,” Myers said about Martin’s shot Monday as the Sabres cleaned out their lockers inside the First Niagara Center. “Instead of getting better, it started getting a little worse. Took the skate off, it blew up pretty quick.”
The innocuous play broke Myers’ ankle. His season was done.
“We didn’t know right away,” Myers said. “But a couple days after we took an X-ray and it was pretty clear there was a hairline fracture there.”
Had the Sabres reached the playoffs, Myers would’ve missed the first round.
Watching the final four regular-season games was excruciating.
“In the hunt like that it wasn’t a very good feeling to know you couldn’t be out there to help the team,” Myers said.
Meanwhile, Christian Ehrhoff, who missed the last five games, also would’ve sat out the first round. Washington’s Troy Brouwer sprained the defenseman’s knee March 27.
“It always seems to happen on plays that are pretty innocent,” Ehrhoff said. “The guy fell into my knee, and then my skate caught the ice and twisted a little bit. That’s all it took. I felt it right away.”
Ehrhoff doesn’t need surgery.
The Sabres sorely missed their top two defenders, going 8-11-7 when Myers was hurt or suspended this season and 3-10-3 when Ehrhoff was injured.
Notes: His eyes welling up, center Jochen Hecht, the longest-tenured Sabre at nine seasons, said he wants to play next season. The German’s recovering from his third concussion in 10 months. He played only 22 games this season and last appeared Jan. 21. … Goalie Ryan Miller said he won’t represent Team USA at the upcoming world hockey championship, which starts next month in Finland. “I don’t need to train for another month,” Miller said. “I’m better suited for the next NHL season getting myself squared away. I’m just trying to make some sense of it all.” Captain Jason Pominville, who grew up in Quebec but has an American mother, wasn’t sure if he’d play for Team USA. He represented the U.S. in 2008. Slick center Tyler Ennis said he’d accept a Team Canada invite.