This was not a good way for Matt Finn to be introduced to the Buffalo Sabres-Toronto Maple Leafs rivalry. The Leafs' high second-round pick from last summer, to liberate some bon mots from from Justin Fisher, is playing well this season when he hasn't been ill or injured.
The defenceman and Storm captain was in his fifth game back after missing six weeks with mononucleosis on Saturday when he was caught by a knee-on-knee hit from the Saginaw Spirit's hulking forward Justin Kea, who's a Sabres pick.
From Tony Saxon (@SaxonOnTheStorm):
Matt Finn's left knee injury diagnosed as a knee sprain. Still has to have an MRI.
— Tony Saxon (@SaxonOnTheStorm) March 10, 2013
Finn, who rejoined the Storm lineup on his 19th birthday two weeks ago, has been the No. 1 defenceman on a team that's not known to be exceptionally deep on the back end. He's been effective with 11 goals and 31 points in the 41 games he has played (while missing 23), but the bad breaks seem to keep accumulating for him. One saving grace for the Storm is that Finn's misfortune has created some a larger role that Pedan, a 6-foot-5 New York Islanders third-rounder, has handled to some critical acclaim.
As far as how this affects either player's availability for the playoffs, which are about 10 days away, Finn only has a sprain. Some of us might wonder if Kea could get some leniency in terms of supplemental discipline. The contact was a full Mississippi after Finn had passed the puck, but he didn't turn his knee out; he simply took a bad angle as he tried to make a check.
The bottom line is the Storm are staring at heading into the first round of the playoffs against rival Kitchener without knowing about the status their best defender and without home-ice advantage. Fans of holding on to scraps of anecdotal evidence might point out that Guelph's only regulation-time win over Kitchener in seven tries came while Finn was in sick bay. But the playoffs are a different animal. The Rangers were also missing three of their four world junior players — goalie John Gibson, centre Radek Faksa and wing Tobias Rieder — in that Jan. 18 game.
Kea's size and two-way game is integral for Saginaw being a tough out in a first-round series against London.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to email@example.com.