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.)
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:
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.