Saturday, March 08, 2008

Estimating man games lost to injury

I get asked for a list of man-games lost to injury all the time, generally by fans whose teams have had bum luck on the injury front in a particular season.

Unfortunately, these are some pretty elusive stats, something that appears irregularly in pre- and postgame write-ups, but that is never officially catalogued.

Part of the problem I've always had with the unofficial official numbers that come out in dribs and drabs is that they count everyone. A player on a one-game call-up blows out a knee? He'll count for 30- or 40-plus games, at least until he's well enough to get sent down.

What use is that?

Anyway, what follows are my best guestimates for man games lost to injury this season, taking into account only what I'll call "core performers" — the top nine or 10 forwards and five or six defencemen. Sure, that part of it is entirely subjective, but it's better than keeping the fringe players in the mix:

1 FLA 225
2 EDM 215
3 NYI 215
4 VAN 200
5 COL 195
6 CAR 195
7 CHI 185
8 WAS 180
9 TAM 180
10 BOS 175
11 COB 170
12 SAN 160
13 DAL 155
14 PIT 155
15 LOS 150
16 PHI 145
17 BUF 145
18 NJD 140
19 TOR 140
20 DET 115
21 ANA 115
22 MIN 110
23 CGY 110
24 NAS 100
25 MON 90
26 STL 90
27 NYR 85
28 OTT 70
29 ATL 70
30 PHO 65

The top seven teams, at least in my eyes, certainly appear right, but let me know if you find any glaring errors. And keep in mind that these are estimates, rounded off.

The thing that this list doesn't do, however, is quantify how valuable these games lost are. Is it Joe Sakic or Raffi Torres spending time in the injury ward?

This is a stat entirely of my own devising, using injured players' goals scored per game times games missed. I think it represents which teams are missing top talent quite well:

1 CHI 43.7
2 COL 37.2
3 WAS 36.6
4 EDM 32.8
5 PHI 32.5
6 CAR 30.5
7 BOS 30.2
8 LOS 27.7
9 FLA 27.4
10 SAN 26.3
11 TAM 26.0
12 COB 25.0
13 VAN 24.6
14 DAL 23.9
15 PIT 23.1
16 DET 21.8
17 NJD 21.7
18 BUF 21.5
19 MIN 21.3
20 TOR 19.2
21 ANA 17.5
22 OTT 17.4
23 NYR 16.6
24 NAS 14.7
25 NYI 13.9
26 ATL 10.7
27 MON 10.6
28 PHO 10.4
29 STL 8.9
30 CGY 8.1

So, Chicago for instance has been without Jason Williams, Martin Havlat, Rene Bourque and Jonathan Toews for long stretches, while Colorado has seen Sakic, Ryan Smyth and Paul Stastny all miss time.

Washington's missed Chris Clark all season essentially, and Michael Nylander and Alex Semin also missed major time. Edmonton has been without Sheldon Souray, Torres, Fernando Pisani and Shawn Horcoff.

On the "lucky" end of the scale, teams like Phoenix, Atlanta and St. Louis really haven't had many significant hurts this season.



At 6:44 p.m., March 08, 2008, Anonymous Cupster33 said...

Thanks for the info i have been looking high and low for these numbers.Do you have a link or did you do it the hard way? if so do you have that link?

At 6:49 p.m., March 08, 2008, Blogger Pseudonym said...

As always thanks for the number crunching. Bryan McCabe who is president of the Maple Leaf Excuse Manufacturing Corporation (MLEMC) has pointed to the Leaf's injuries as one of the reasons they are so low in the standings. I sensed that they have not been hit as hard as last season and the numbers confirm it. Their problem isn't injuries but lack of depth.

At 6:52 p.m., March 08, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about man games lost for Dmen? You can't quantify their importance based on goals scored. Vancouver, for example, has been without some of its "top talent" on D for a good part of the year...I would say the impact of their injuries puts them higher than 13th on this list.

At 6:56 p.m., March 08, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

You can't quantify their importance based on goals scored.

No, look — I just did.

At 7:02 p.m., March 08, 2008, Blogger d-lee said...

Carolina's MGL is more like 250 right now.
They're sure to hit 300, as four of the "top" players are done for the season.

At 7:07 p.m., March 08, 2008, Blogger Black Dog said...

Great stuff James. Interesting to note that Atlanta is still crap despite having relatively good luck injury wise.

At 8:39 p.m., March 08, 2008, Blogger pennersmom said...

The goals per game kind of puts the emphasis (heavily) or forwards, no? Not to mention players like Ethan Moreau. He's certainly an impact player on the Oilers, if not on the scoresheet. This also misrepresents the huge problems vancouver has had, mostly limited to defence. Maybe you should have put "top goal scoring forward talent"

At 9:15 p.m., March 08, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I assume that these numbers are exaggerated for San Jose since Wilson appeared to use the IR to keep an extra man up and avoid waivers (just a rumour).

At 9:29 p.m., March 08, 2008, Blogger Old said...

Goaltenders? If your top goalie misses time, I would consider that significant.

At 9:48 p.m., March 08, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:34 a.m., March 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a better way to measure the importance of a player is to look at their time on ice rather than goals scored.

At 8:21 a.m., March 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. Goals scored artificially deflates the value of non-goal scorers (e.g. defensemen or goalies).

At 10:48 a.m., March 09, 2008, Blogger g said...

Pretty good list, actually. Does anyone dispute that the top five are indeed the clubs most affected by injuries this year? While any injury to a starting goalie is disastrous, how many of those have there been this year?

At 1:05 p.m., March 09, 2008, Blogger Matt said...

Did you include Teppo in Buffalo's numbers?

At 1:16 p.m., March 09, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Including Teppo would be hilarious considering the Sabres suspended him (essentially tossing him from the payroll - bye bye millions!).

At 4:41 p.m., March 09, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Did you include Teppo in Buffalo's numbers?

No, I didn't. I didn't use any players who have missed the entire season, which includes guys like Steve Sullivan in Nashville, etc.

Goaltenders aren't included as I didn't think there'd been a significant injury to a netminder that had impacted a team's performance. I believe Marc-Andre Fleury and Manny Fernandez have been the two main stoppers hurt for prolonged periods, and their teams won more games without them than with.

It's not a perfect list; it's merely some estimates I was able to cook up in about a half hour.

At 9:08 a.m., March 10, 2008, Blogger Dario said...

Good numbers for a half hours worth of work. A more refined listing would probably include the afformentioned TOI and in a salary cap world, possibly average salary lost per day. I think that no matter what you do the top injured teams will stay on top.

At 10:41 p.m., March 12, 2008, Blogger Aaron said...

"and in a salary cap world, possibly average salary lost per day"

Yea this would be an interesting number, though we all know the top paid aren't necessarily the top performers. No stat comparison is going to be perfect, the argument against TOI could be the opposite of that for Goals in that a top pair defenceman logs 25% more ice time than a top forward typically.

But like Dario says, I'm sure most of the 'top' 5-10 injury prone teams would just shift amongst themselves.

Thanks for the loose breakdown.

At 9:44 p.m., March 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe % of minutes played would be a better guideline than pure goals scored. Goals not only hurts defensemen, but it also penalizes teams that just aren't as good or don't score as much as a team.

Just a thought, but you put together a great start.



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