Every NHL season features so many different storylines and this season has been no different. From naked shootouts, to the Vancouver Olympics, Auger-gate, Brodeur’s all-time shutout record, and all the way to the great Kovalchuk trade watch, we’ve seen it all this season. But instead of talking about any of those stories, there’s another story that’s played a huge role in this NHL season: injuries. And lots of them.
The number of individual injuries to star players this year seems higher than ever before. Stars like Alex Ovechkin, Roberto Luongo, Marian Hossa, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Zetterberg, Marc Savard, Daniel Alfredsson, Eric Staal, and many more have all missed games this season due to injury. It’s staggering.
Some teams have seen their rosters completely ravaged by serious injuries to critical players. And no, I’m not talking about when Mike Van Ryn went down earlier this year for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I’m talking about teams like the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers, and Detroit Red Wings. These are the 4 teams that I believe have been hit hardest with injuries. Let’s take a closer look at the number of injuries each team has suffered and the significance some of the injured players represent.
*Note: I won’t include players who’ve missed less than 5 games. As well, these stats are all based on the number of games their team has played as of January13th.
Milan Lucic – 32 games missed
Marc Savard – 16 games missed
Mark Stuart – 10 games missed
Bryon Bitz – 6 games missed
The Boston Bruins played a good chunk of this season without their top line from last season. Both Marc Savard and Milan Lucic were injured and Phil Kessel was traded to the Leafs prior to the season starting. Regardless of depth, virtually every NHL team would note a significant drop in goals for with these players out of the line-up. It’s also worth nothing Tim Thomas did not have a good start to the season either. The Bruins have done an admirable job climbing back into the playoff picture despite the injuries they’ve suffered this season.
Pascal Leclaire – 21 games missed
Jason Spezza – 17 games missed
Chris Neil – 14 games missed
Anton Volchenkov – 14 games missed
Daniel Alfredsson – 10 games missed
Filip Kuba – 10 games missed
This list doesn’t include Milan Michalek, who’s also injured. As a result, the Ottawa Senators have been playing without their top line for about a week now. It’s no wonder they’ve only scored 5 goals in their last 5 games. The Senators also average the 5th most goals against per game in the league and a lot of that has to do with Pascal Leclaire, Anton Volchenkov, and Filip Kuba missing significant time because of injuries. The Senators are holding onto 8th place in the Eastern Conference by a thread, but have used all the slack they built for themselves earlier in the season. Luckily for the Sens, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza are starting to practice again with Alfredsson expected to return as early as this weekend in Montreal.
Fernando Pisani – 36 games missed
Mike Comrie – 29 games missed
Nikolai Khabibulan – 26 games missed
Ales Hesmky – 23 games missed
Steve Staios – 12 games missed
The 2009-2010 Edmonton Oilers season has been one to forget… unless it results in selecting Taylor Hall at this summer’s Entry Draft. And if that happens, it’s a result of too many goals against and not enough scored. Obvious statement, but the Oilers have allowed the 4th most goals against and are in the bottom 10 in goals for in the NHL this season. Comrie and Hemsky, two of Edmonton’s better forwards, have missed more than half the season (in fact, Hemsky is out for the year) and the prized summer goalie acquisition – Nikolai Khabibulan – didn’t play well before getting injured. Khabibulan is expected to miss the balance of the season with surgery on a herniated disc. And Fernando Pisani is still made of glass. Needless to say, a big reason for Edmonton’s struggles this year can be associated with the injuries they’ve faced.
Detroit Red Wings
Johan Franzen – 42 games missed
Jason Williams – 30 games missed
Valtteri Filppula – 26 games missed
Niklas Kronwall – 24 games missed
Jonathan Ericsson – 14 games missed
Dan Cleary – 12 games missed
Henrik Zetterberg – 8 games missed
Clearly, the Detroit Red Wings have been hit hardest by the 2009-2010 injury bug. It’s absolutely amazing that this team is still challenging for a playoff spot (they are 9th in the Western Conference and 1 point back of the Kings for 8th) when you consider how difficult the Western Conference is, the UFA departures this past summer (Jiri Hudler, Marian Hossa, Mikael Samuelsson), and the star players who’ve been injured this season. While many may think the Red Wings are finally struggling or that their young depth players aren’t living up to expectations, I think it’s fair to say the non-injured depth players have performance pretty damn well for the Wings. With Franzen ahead of schedule and possibly back in the Wings line-up before the Olympic break, perhaps the Wings will be able to make a somewhat healthy push to make the playoffs. That in itself would have to be considered a successful season.
Regardless of what happens between now and the end of the year, injuries will be one of the main things I’ll remember when looking back at the 09-10 the NHL season. Here’s hoping for a healthy 2nd half of the season!
Stay classy, depleted NHL rosters.
About the Author: Kevin Burgundy runs and operates Stayclassy.net - The internet's best damn hockey blog... with a hint of Burgundy. SC is the smartest and sharpest hockey blog you'll read today (in the next 3 minutes). Go read it today and have a laugh! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @Stay_Classy Site: http://www.stayclassy.net