BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Their reserves and the outside possibility of a veteran centre returning to the lineup appear to be the Winnipeg Jets' only pathway to the playoffs.
The point gained by Saturday's 5-4 shootout loss at home against the New York Islanders came at quite a price. Defenceman Zach Bogosian will not be available for tonight's contest at First Niagara Center against the Buffalo Sabres and presumably for Tuesday's key contest in Washington against the Southeast Division-leading Capitals.
Bogosian was hit in the head in Saturday's second period by New York's Kyle Okposo.
And Winnipeg centre Olli Jokinen is lost to the team for six to eight weeks with a high-ankle sprain, Jets coach Claude Noel said Sunday.
Who will step in?
Noel was non-committal late Sunday.
His options on defence will be Derek Meech or Zach Redmond, who played two AHL games on the weekend for the St. John's IceCaps, his first action since returning from a skate-cut on his calf and a sliced femoral artery.
The Jets also have defencemen Arturs Kulda and 19-year-old Jacob Trouba in reserve, but neither has played an NHL game this season, and Trouba has no pro games.
At forward, Antti Miettinen could step in. He's been a healthy scratch for six games.
The coach said that one or some of centre Nik Antropov, Jim Slater and Anthony Peluso could also play this week. It's believed that Peluso has been cleared, since he's been practising with the team.
All of those forwards are with the team in Buffalo. Antropov's return has been expected soon, though his practice has been very limited.
Given the coach's statements Sunday, it's likely Bogosian has a concussion.
"He's day-to-day but we've got a protocol to follow in this situation so we'll follow that road," Noel said.
Protocol is a common way to word how a player with a concussion, or those kinds of symptoms, goes through the stages of being symptom-free, on his way back to the lineup.
Noel said Sunday his team won't be handcuffed by the injuries.
"Not really," he said. (Bogosian) is a good player. He logs big minutes. Somebody else is going to have to log those minutes.
"I haven't completely determined yet who's going to go where with the lines or the D or the matchups...."
The Jets' predicament is more serious than just a few days ago, and has little room for any further error.
They are three points back of the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers, who are tied and sit in seventh and eighth places in the Eastern Conference, with three games to play. Winnipeg also trails the Capitals by three points, each team with three games remaining.
If there's any good news from Sunday's travel day, it's that Noel said that left-winger Evander Kane is a player tonight.
Kane didn't take the warmup Saturday, but played a regular turn and had one assist.
"He's OK," the coach said. "I believe so. Is he 100 per cent? I'm not sure where he's at that way. I wouldn't put a percentage on it. He's OK to play. I'm anticipating him being a player in the game tomorrow."
And predictably, the coach wasn't having any long faces because of the team's injury problems.
"We played hard, played smart, did some good things (Saturday)," he said. "It's a good intensity, a good focus."