How Bad Are The Wild's Injury Woes?

At least the trainers in St. Paul are earning overtime.

With injuries to Wild forwards Devin Setoguchi and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, it was a relief Tuesday to see Guillaume Latendresse return to the Minnesota lineup after missing a month with a concussion. He even scored a goal in his return against the Atlanta Thrashers Winnipeg Jets. But the joy of having the "Big Bear" wearing Iron Range Red lasted all of four periods after Latendresse suffered post-concussion symptoms during the Wild's 4-3 shootout loss to Chicago.

Minnesota Wild forward Guillaume Latendresse (photo from Zimbio)

Losing Latendresse again is a blow for the top team in the NHL, albeit one that they've been used to over the last two seasons, but that's only the tip of the injury iceberg. Minnesota Captain Mikko Koivu joined his three top-six teammates on the shelf with a leg injury suffered at the end of the Blackhawks game and Casey Wellman has a wrist injury.

That means four of the top-six (and if you include Matt Cullen missing a game due to being sick, only Dany Heatley stayed healthy this week) are out right now with injuries. Coupled with how depleted the defense was early in the season and it's a testament to Mike Yeo how much he's been getting out of this team.

Mikko's just showing the irony of getting injured

It feels like Minnesota is cursed right now and this isn't the first season they have to deal with multiple injuries. But how bad is it compared to the other 29 NHL teams? Although man-games lost is not an official stat, I took a look at every team's media notes to try to put the Wild's 2011-2012 in perspective.

Most man games lost by team (source: NHL media notes of the team's last game before December 15, 2011):
Montreal 159 games
Winnipeg 151 games
Pittsburgh 143 games
Columbus 121 games
New York Islanders 120 games
St. Louis 117 games
Minnesota 113 games
Edmonton 105 games
Buffalo 104 games
7th in the NHL doesn't look that great for the Wild and there's not much room to complain, right? Of course not! That would be the easy way to end this article.

Like most stats, these numbers are a little misleading because there is no one way to track man games lost. Each NHL team has a different definition. Some, like Montreal or St. Louis, include players who have missed the entire season while others like Edmonton do not. Others include suspensions in their man games lost.

If those players who have missed the entire season and suspensions are removed from the equation, the list would go something this:
Winnipeg 151 games
Pittsburgh 143 games
Minnesota 113 games
Columbus 113 games
Edmonton 105 games
Buffalo 104 games
Toronto 102 games
Florida 102 games
Montreal 98 games
Tied for third sounds much worse for Minnesota, although having nearly 40 fewer man games lost than Winnipeg and 30 less than Pittsburgh (who are up there with Crosby's brief return) does put things into perspective.  Of course, the Wild have played more games than a few of the teams - the game against Chicago Wednesday was Minnesota's 32nd while the Islanders have played 28 - but for the most part they are one of the more injury-prone teams this year.

That cursed feeling Wild fans have in the back of their stomach is right; however just remember that it's not just you. Minnesota's 113 lost games is still more than the combined man games of San Jose (13 not including Marty Havlat's start to the year), Chicago (21) Boston (26 not including Marc Savard) and Carolina (26 before Skinner and Pitkanen).

Although it would take more injuries (*knock on wood*) for the Wild to reach the Islanders' 614 man games lost last season, lets just hope the loss of Gui Latendresse and Mikko Koivu aren't the tipping point for an overachieving Minnesota team like losing the captain last season was.

2 comments:

  1. It's not just the number of games lost, it's the players who we're losing. It's top 6 forwards and top 4 d-men. Zidlicky, Zanon, Koivu, Bouchard, Latendresse, Setoguchi. These guys are the core of our team and where the majority of the scoring needs to come from.

    I will say Pittsburgh has it pretty bad losing Crosby, Letang, and Michalek for long stretches, but their roster is ridiculously deep. At the very least, much deeper than Minnesota's.

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  2. Well Pittsburgh is going through the same thing with their upper-depth guys like Staal and Park missing stretches. Winnipeg might not be in the same league (although losing Enstrom the last five weeks hurts) but there are other teams who are hurting.

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