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

3 Comments

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.)

(click to enlarge)

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:

(click to enlarge)

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.

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

Getty
Leave a comment

The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch when they failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

Getty
3 Comments

There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fan, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong regular seasons, even as memories of their Cup win start to fade into the distance. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

1 Comment

Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to defend Craig Anderson following his blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

Getty
10 Comments

When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some sad endings.

It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: