Winter into Spring: The Seasonal Shift for NHL Injuries
With less than seven weeks to go in the NHL regular season, injuries seem to be up more than ever. Seeing 91 injuries this time of year is not uncommon. However, it seems like the maladies are of increasing significance. Combine that with the fallout from the trade deadline and rosters get changed dramatically.
Take the New Jersey Devils as a perfect example. After the Marcus Johansson trade, New Jersey was down a player already. Even with Sami Vatanen’s return on Wednesday night, the Devils still have eight players on the injured list. Those include:
Taylor Hall – Undisclosed – feared to be out for the season
Miles Wood – Fractured Ankle – out at least four weeks
Kyle Palmieri – Lower Body – week to week
Jesper Bratt – Lower Body – day to day
Pavel Zacha – Lower Body – skating with team, not cleared for contact
Joel Quenneville – Upper Body – day to day
Will Butcher – Lower Body – day to day
Stefan Noesen – Lower Body – still on Injured Reserve
That is a huge chunk of an already depleted team. Basically, this has resulted in a team that looks more like an AHL team than anything else. When there are maybe three or four NHL caliber forwards, that is an ominous sign. When numbers spike like they did on Wednesday, it’s extremely telling.
New Jersey is not the only team to feel the pinch of injuries. Then, there is the Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg is now missing three of their top-six defensemen. Dustin Byfuglien is on the injured reserve. Then, Josh Morrissey was diagnosed with an upper-body injury that will keep him out a minimum of one month. Add in the Joe Morrow injury and Winnipeg is stressed on the back end for at least the rest of the regular season.
St. Louis has seen the injury tide turn in reverse for them as well. Five players are out including three top-nine forwards. Alex Steen is the latest, but he is only day to day with an illness. Yes, the flu is still very much around. Players cannot stay healthy this time of year. Unfortunately, this is a matter of fact. David Perron and Brayden Schenn are also still going to miss time on the injured reserve as well. This impacts bettors everywhere when segments of a team are missing from the lineup.
It is not enough to know injuries as it is more to apply them for other uses. Whether it be betting, fantasy hockey, or otherwise, knowing when players will return or not return is essential. Having an idea of what injuries mean as far as time being out is also important. A torn meniscus is far different than a knee sprain. A groin aggravation from re-injury (see Erik Karlsson) is far more troubling than a minor groin tweak.
Timing is everything in the hockey world. March expects to see a ton of impact and the prospect of some players being shut down for the season. Teams at the bottom of the standings will do this also to try and get their younger players some playing time.
Some of the problem lies that the intensity this time of year brings about more injuries too. While data suggests a slight correlation, the battle to get to the second season is not for the faint of heart. This is the time of year where players playing injured becomes more commonplace. That is the danger. Again, the fear of re-injury or a worse injury is very real. Being as ahead of the information as possible increases preparedness and awareness. Good luck this month and get ready for what will be a wild ride!
By Chris Wassel