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

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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.

Video: Tempers flare between Oilers and Predators, as Lucic and McLeod drop the gloves

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Things got feisty between the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators on Friday.

It started in the second period after P.K. Subban took an elbow from Matt Hendricks along the end boards. Hendricks was immediately grabbed by Anthony Bitetto. Nothing really materialized from that, however the main event broke out between Milan Lucic and Nashville newcomer Cody McLeod.

Lucic landed some pretty heavy punches before the two players fell to the ice.

Video: Cam Ward loses it on Hornqvist, Hurricanes suffer ’embarrassing’ loss to Penguins

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Cam Ward had enough.

The Carolina Hurricanes goalie seemed particularly ticked off with Patric Hornqvist on Friday, twice taking out his frustrations in front of the net on the Pittsburgh Penguins forward.

Earlier in the game, Ward delivered a slash to the back of Hornqvist’s leg. In the third period, with the Hurricanes down five goals — that should give you an indication of what kind of night this was for Carolina — Ward snapped, delivering a punch with the blocker to Hornqvist after he slid into the Hurricanes puck stopper a split second after Evgeni Malkin jammed the puck in for a goal.

The final score? A 7-1 disaster of a loss to the Penguins, highlighted by Pittsburgh’s second-period offensive outburst. Ward played the entire game, allowing seven goals on 41 shots.

Carolina’s night also included star forward Jeff Skinner getting benched for the third period, after he took a pair of minor penalties — embellishment and unsportsmanlike conduct — in the second period.

“That’s pretty embarrassing. You don’t want to suffer a loss like that, especially in your home building,” Skinner told reporters.

The Hurricanes entered this game with a chance to jump into a wild card spot in the East.

Last week, the Hurricanes won four in a row, including a victory over Columbus, and continued their steady rise into the playoff hunt in the East. This week? It’s included losses to the Blue Jackets and Penguins.

The Hurricanes won’t have much time to think about this one. They travel to Columbus for a game Saturday evening.

With Claude Julien on the hot seat, Bruins lose late heartbreaker to Blackhawks

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The Boston Bruins have now lost three in a row, a losing streak that coincides with reports circulating that head coach Claude Julien’s job security is in jeopardy.

The bad news just keeps piling up for the Bruins: They’ve been shut out twice this week, as scoring continues to be an issue in Boston. They’re 22nd in the league in that category.

On Friday, the Bruins had their chances and once again held the edge in puck possession against the Chicago Blackhawks, finishing the game with 19 more shot attempts then the visitors, per hockeystats.ca.

But they couldn’t beat Scott Darling, who made 30 saves, and the real dagger came late in the third period when Marian Hossa scored off the rush with just over one minute remaining in regulation. Boston couldn’t even salvage a point out of this contest, losing 1-0.

The Bruins were all over the Blackhawks in the first period. They held a wide edge in shots on goal, but the Blackhawks were able to escape on the strength of some solid goaltending. They just hung around, and were able to break through in the third period.

The Bruins are still in a playoff position in the Atlantic Division. They are the top puck possession team in the league (although they have the second lowest shooting percentage at five-on-five) and Julien has had plenty of success behind that bench, helping guide the organization to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 and a run to the Final in the lockout shortened campaign.

It would seem unfair to pin this roster’s shortcomings on the coach, especially given the offseason plans initially set out by Bruins management.

Though this loss likely puts Claude Julien Watch on high alert.

Sabres’ McCabe suffers shoulder injury, will not return versus Red Wings

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The Buffalo Sabres will be down a defenseman for the remainder of Friday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Jake McCabe has left the game due to a shoulder injury suffered during the first period and will not return, the club stated during the second period.

Signed to a three-year, $4.8 million contract extension last summer, the 23-year-old McCabe has one goal and 10 points in 44 games this season for Buffalo

More recently, McCabe drew the immediate ire of the Winnipeg Jets after he delivered an open-ice hit on rookie Patrik Laine, who suffered a concussion on the play.