News out of Pittsburgh this afternoon is that enforcer Eric Godard will be sidelined four to six weeks with what is being called a groin injury.

“He is still be evaluated with where he is at with that. It will be long term,“coach Dan Bylsma said.

Could this be a hint that Godard might just have played his last game of the season?

It sure seems likely.

Through 54 games, Godard has averaged the least icetime of the 29 players who have worn the black and gold this season. With an average of 4:15 of ice time per game, it’s clear he was being used almost exclusively in a pugilistic role.

As the season comes to an end, the need to fill such a role becomes less because teams focus more on winning via hockey tactics and focus less on fighting.

And if Godard is placed on long-term injured reserves through the end of the season, general manager Ray Shero could save himself a few hundred thousand dollars in cap space that could come in handy at the trade deadline.

With a four to six week timeline, Godard could return as early as late February. Then again, it may also be mid-March. Or, as Bylsma indicated, following an evaluation at the conclusion of that timeline, it could be longer.

If the latter is the case, it certainly isn’t out of the question that Shero just might choose to keep the tough guy out of the lineup leading to the April 11 season finale.

Then, once the playoffs begin, when the salary cap no longer is in effect, Godard could be activated and used, if needed — though he didnt’ so much as dress for a game during the 2009 Stanley Cup run.