Injuries are an unfortunate fact of life in the NHL, so with most teams, you just have to throw up your hands and say, “Sorry, it happens.”
There are certain cases that do inspire sympathy, though.
In hindsight, the Columbus Blue Jackets deserved more leeway in 2015-16, particularly with two-time Vezina winner* Sergei Bobrovsky limited to 37 games and likely unhealthy for some of those. The Anaheim Ducks rank among the teams with the greatest reasons to gripe about poor health luck, even if you correct for the team having some guys who have serious mileage on them like Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf.
Honestly, it’s been tough to truly gauge this team because of how rarely they’ve been even in the ballpark of what you’d expect from the Ducks at full-strength.
Goalie John Gibson has basically been the backbone of this team, even when key players were out. His subtle climb up among the elite goalies continued this season … but now there’s concern that the injury bug will bit him, too.
After a scare when Mathieu Perreault‘s elbow clipped him earlier in the game, Gibson left with a lower-body injury of unclear severity after being slid into by Blake Wheeler:
This could be the second brutal blow for California teams right as the All-Star break approaches. Joe Thornton suffered a knee injury that prompted surgery, putting the San Jose Sharks’ season into turmoil, too.
We don’t know how bad Gibson’s issue is yet, but the Ducks might actually suffer more than the Sharks if it’s comparable. At least they have a proven backup/former starter in Ryan Miller, though it remains to be seen if he could carry a full workload any longer.
As of this writing, the Ducks have 57 standings points, tying them with the Avalanche, Wild, and Kings. Unfortunately, Colorado’s played 48 games while Los Angeles and Minnesota are at 49, while Anaheim’s at 50, so they’re in a weaker spot as far as the final wild-card spot goes.
Losing Gibson could very well push them from the fringe to somewhere closer to the basement. Gulp.
* – Yes, yes, it’s true that he only had one at the time.