The 8 most – and least – injured teams in the NHL during the 2010-11 season


Some people call them excuses, other people would prefer to soften the term down to “explanations.” Either way, one of the biggest roadblocks an NHL team can face is a slew of poorly-timed injuries.

It’s one of those “everyone deals with it” situations that nonetheless hits some teams much harder than others. Avoiding injuries boils down to a formula of luck plus careful prevention plus a little more luck and so on.

The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle frequently goes that extra mile to bring interesting information to the table, so it’s no surprise that he took the time to cobble together a full list of the “man-games lost” to injury for all 30 NHL teams.

As Mirtle points out, this list has its limitations because it counts any player’s injury the same way. In other words, an All-Star caliber player costs the same amount as a replaceable ham-and-egger. Still, it’s an interesting list, so I thought I’d break down the eight teams most and least affect by injury and see if they exploited and persevered through those injuries.

Top 8 most-injured teams (GP = Games Played; MGL = man-games lost; MGL/G = man-games lost per game.)

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To little surprise, the Islanders were hit the hardest by injuries. From perennial man-game loser Rick DiPietro to Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo, they suffered injuries to vital players. All five of the top teams will likely miss the playoffs this season.

Interestingly enough, though, teams 6-8 found a way to roll with the punches. The Predators still might miss the postseason, but won a big game to improve their chances last night. The Canucks are the best team in the NHL, yet they’ve faced the seventh most injuries. Then again, some might say the Penguins were hit the hardest by injuries since they lost stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, yet they remain a competitive Eastern Conference team.

Now let’s take a look at the eight least injured teams:

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Considering their luck with regard to injuries, the Hurricanes really have very little excuse to miss the playoffs. They don’t even average a single man-game lost per game according to these numbers.

Surely Marc Savard’s injury-plagued season juiced up the Bruins numbers a bit, but this stat generally shows how lucky that team has been this season.

Perhaps the most interesting stat is that all five Pacific Division teams made it into the “bottom” seven. That’s a pretty amazing number considering the fact those clubs are among the league’s heaviest travelers (the Sharks will cover the most miles in the 2010-11 season). It also makes you wonder how much longer the Stars will be lucky with Kari Lehtonen and surprised by how long Justin Williams avoided the inevitable with the Kings.

Anyway, for the complete list, click here. It’s interesting to see which teams have been able to run with their good fortune and which teams persevered despite losing some key cogs to their squad. Honestly, it might even be an interesting document to cite when determining the Jack Adams winner to boot.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.