Hoping for a quick turnaround after an incredibly active offseason, the Sabres are suddenly in jeopardy after starting goaltender Robin Lehner suffered a high ankle sprain in the second period of Buffalo’s season-opening 3-1 loss to Ottawa on Oct. 8.
Lehner, 24, is expected to miss between 6-10 weeks.
“He was apologetic,” head coach Dan Bylsma told Buffalo Hockey Beat. “He was upset because he’s injured right now. Last night he just said he was sorry. He can’t be sorry for getting injured.”
Buffalo traded a first-round draft pick to Ottawa to acquire Lehner and veteran forward David Legwand in June, hoping the up-and-coming netminder would provide the rebuilding franchise some stability in the crease.
Unfortunately for Lehner and the Sabres, high ankle sprains can be a lingering issue.
When a high ankle sprain occurs, there is the potential for several structures to be damaged. These include the syndesmotic ligaments that connect the tibia to the fibula, as well as a tissue known as the interosseous membrane.
High ankle sprains are described as high because they are located above the ankle. They are caused by an outward twisting of the foot and ankle and comprise approximately 15% of all ankle sprains.
The severity of this injury often depends on how many of these structures are damaged and recovery times can vary from a few weeks to a few months.
High ankle sprains are graded on a scale of 1–3 based on their severity:
Grade 1 (Mild): In mild cases, the ligaments are somewhat stretched, resulting in joint stiffness, muscle weakness or tightness with reduced balance and joint awareness. It takes approximately six weeks for ligaments to heal from a Grade 1 sprain.
Grade 2 (Moderate): In moderate cases, there is significant ligament stretching and sometimes partial tearing. It is far more painful than a mild sprain and can make it difficult to walk. A recovery time of 6 to 12 weeks can be expected.
Grade 3 (Severe): In severe cases, the ligament can completely rupture. There is severe swelling, extensive bruising, and immense pain felt with a Grade 3 sprain. In most cases, a patient will need a screw inserted into their ankle to stabilize the area while it heals. A recovery time of 3 to 6 months can be expected.
Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, believes that, given the reports that Lehner will be out anywhere from 6-10 weeks, that the Buffalo goaltender likely sustained a Grade 2 sprain.
“When you’ve got a partial tearing as well as a pulling, you can be out anywhere from 7-12 weeks,” said Dr. Goldbaum, who treats approximately 10 ankle sprains a week at his office in Delray Beach. “You have to use compression to reduce inflammation and wear a soft cast to stabilize the area as well.”
The Sabres are currently 1-2-0 and have allowed nine goals through their first three games.
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