Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 03/28/11 at 10:29 PM ET
For the six previous seasons running, Carolina has had a lot of difficulty with injuries. They dealt with well over 200 man-games lost for all of those seasons and were over 300 for at least the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. There were catastrophic injuries to key players. There were season-ending surgeries. There were freak injuries. There were illnesses. There were so many different ways in which so many different players missed significant time. They had to rely heavily on the Albany River Rats to restock the team when they all went down with injury at the same time.
This season, miraculously, there have been very few injuries, and there was never more than one key player out at the same time. In years past, when the Canes would miss the playoffs, it was easy to lean on the excuse “well, they had a ridiculous amount of man-games lost” or “our team was almost entirely made up of AHL players” or just “we were decimated with injury”. This season, they can’t use that, and they’ll have to invent something else.
In years past, I used a picture of a pig for each player to mark the corresponding spot on the pig where the player was injured, and I tallied the man-games lost by each player that way. I’m dispensing with that this season, and I’ll just go with a short list of who was injured and for how long.
- ERIC STAAL missed 1 game with an “upper body” injury that was believed to be concussion-like symptoms after taking a hit from some Penguin not named Matt Cooke.
- JUSSI JOKINEN missed 12 games in total. Six with an “upper body” injury in early January and six with a “lower body” injury in the first half of February.
- JONI PITKANEN missed 10 games in total. Two with an “upper body” injury in early November. Five with a “lower body” in early January. One game on February 10 with a “lower body”. One game on February 19 with an “undisclosed” injury, and one game on March 26 with food poisoning.
- JAY HARRISON missed 2 games with an “upper body” injury in mid-December.
- JAMIE McBAIN missed 6 games with a shoulder injury. He just returned from that.
- PAT DWYER missed 2 games with a “lower body” at the end of January.
- JIRI TLUSTY missed 14 games with an arm injury from the middle of December to the middle of January. He also missed time at the start of the season while he was recovering from knee surgery. However, he was technically assigned to Charlotte at the time.
- SERGEI SAMSONOV missed the first 2 games of the season with a neck injury
- RYAN CARTER missed 9 games in total. Three with an “upper body” in early January and six with a back injury just before the trade. He missed eight more games with the Panthers with that same injury.
That makes 58, and I think it’s really supposed to be 59. I don’t know where I’ve lost that other game, but either way, it’s the least amount of man-games lost to injury that this team has had in at least seven seasons.
This season, seven Hurricanes (Jeff Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu, Erik Cole, Joe Corvo, Chad LaRose, Brandon Sutter and Tim Gleason) have played in every game. In addition, Cam Ward has been healthy all season long and hasn’t missed any games due to injury. For Comparison’s sake, Tom Kostopoulos was the only player who played in every game. Only three others (Jokinen, Brind’Amour, Whitney) missed fewer than ten games. Two seasons ago, it was just Ray Whitney and Eric Staal. Three seasons ago, it was just Eric Staal.
So “poor health” can’t be an excuse. They can complain that in addition to their grueling travel, they had 21 sets of back-to-backs, which is second most in the league behind only the Buffalo Sabres. But that’s all it is. Complaining.
Something has gone right this season in terms of their health. Was it the trip to Finland? Was it the fact that the team is much younger than they’ve ever been? Was it better off-season training by the young guys? Was it just luck? I don’t know. The Canes are healthy, and there’s a good chance that they’re still not going to make the playoffs.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.