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:
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:
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.