NHL Injuries: 10 Teams Most Impacted This Season

Jon Neely@@iamjonneelyAnalyst IFebruary 24, 2011

NHL Injuries: 10 Teams Most Impacted This Season

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    For teams in the NHL, it's not so much if you will have injuries throughout the regular season, but how many you sustain before it's all said and done. And this season, there has been no shortage of injured bodies for teams to deal with. 

    One or two players at a time is manageable—almost expected—but when the man-games lost start looking like the point production of one of Wayne Gretzky's finer seasons, you know you're in trouble. 

    With the head-shots debate raging on and concussion awareness on the rise, we're seeing more and more players sitting out longer after receiving a head injury. Gone are the days where a player simply shakes it off and is back out on the ice after a few shifts.

    As we've seen with a number of guys, head injuries mean months, not minutes. 

    Sometimes injuries make way for younger players to step in and show what they've got, and other times it ends up being the demise of the club. 

    Unfortunately for a few teams, injuries have been the biggest story this season. 

    Here are the 10 teams that have been most impacted by injuries in 2011-11.

Dallas Stars

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    As if Brad Richards wasn't in the news enough this season, he had to go and suffer a concussion which put him in the news even more. 

    Not only are people now questioning where the star will end up, but also how his recent concussion affects that, as he is a free agent at the end of the season. 

    He's been out since Feb. 14 and it's uncertain when Richards will return to the Stars' lineup. His loss is a huge one as, when combined with previous injuries to Jamie Benn, Adam Burish and Krys Barch, the team now finds itself in a serious slump. 

    They've dropped from third in the West to currently out of a playoff spot, and if the key members are out for much longer, Dallas may find the season ending a lot earlier than anticipated.

    As for the future of Richards, his career with the Stars may end earlier than anticipated as well if a deal happens before the trade deadline. 

New York Rangers

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    As it stands right now, the New York Rangers have five significant members of their team on injured reserve. Derek Boogaard is out indefinitely with a concussion, as is Marian Gaborik. Alex Frolov had major knee surgery and will miss the remainder of the season. 

    And both Ruslan Fedotenko and Chris Drury have missed weeks already, and are expected to miss more time. 

    Even Marc Staal finds himself sitting out due to a knee injury at the moment. 

    Yes, the infirmary has not been kind to the Rangers this season, and just when they think they've got guys healthy it seems another player goes down for extended time. 

    They're still sitting in a playoff spot despite all the missing players, but it's a dog fight right now, and one that they may find themselves losing when it comes to the end of the season. 

    If so, they can thank the injury bug for playing a major role in that. 

Minnesota Wild

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    One of the top teams in man-games lost this season, the Minnesota Wild have been no strangers to sending players to the doctor this season.

    Most recently they had to watch as captain Mikko Koivu was sidelined indefinitely with a broken index finger. But it doesn't stop there, as Minnesota's injured list is currently also made up of Josh Harding, James Sheppard, Guillaume Latendresse and Cam Barker. 

    They've had to play without Antti Miettinen, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Marek Zidlicky and Chuck Kobasew at various points. No small task, to be sure. 

    As a whole they've still managed to put together a solid season and find themselves sitting in fifth place in the West.

    Pretty impressive, considering they've had to deal with injuries to almost every major player on their roster. 

St. Louis Blues

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    The problem for the St. Louis Blues and their injuries this season has been that it's just been a constant barrage. There hasn't been a time when a key member hasn't been hurt. 

    And as it stands, both David Perron and Jaroslav Halak are on the injured reserve, with no real signs of coming back in the near future. Perron with the ever-popular concussion-like symptoms, and Halak with an injured hand that's been giving him trouble for a while now. 

    They've also had to play without Andy McDonald, TJ Oshie, Carlo Coliacovo (obviously), and Roman Polak. 

    It's been a tough break for a team that looked promising coming into this season, especially with the addition of Halak, who was hot off his ridiculous playoff performance for the Montreal Canadiens last year. 

    But as it turns out, the injuries have played a major role in where the club is now. Dare I say it, they've got all the reason in the world to be singing the blues. 

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    There is no doubt that the Pittsburgh Penguins have been impacted by injuries this season. If it was only Sidney Crosby suffering from an injury, that would be enough. 

    After 41 games this season, Crosby had amassed 32 goals. At the time, no one else on the club had more than 11. He was the offense, and after sitting out of the lineup for weeks, his 66 points are still 21 points ahead of the next highest-scoring Penguin (Kris Letang). 

    Yes, losing Crosby to a concussion is a major blow, but one made much much worse when Evgeni Malkin goes down to a season-ending knee injury as well. 

    The team's two most dangerous players have both been gone for extended periods of time.

    That is not the best recipe for success in the league, and although the Penguins keep on winning it will be tough to roll through the playoffs if Crosby can't come back. 

    They were also forced to play without Jordan Staal for the first three months of the season, as he recovered from a nagging hand injury. 

    They currently have 10 players on injured reserve. 

    Injuries to a team are one thing, but Pittsburgh has dealt with major blows to their three best players this season. Only time well tell if it catches up to them. 

Vancouver Canucks

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    It's easier to list the players who haven't been hurt on the Vancouver Canucks blue line this season, but that would defeat the purpose. 

    Needless to say, the Canucks have been decimated on the back end and somehow still find themselves the best team in the NHL. 

    Defensemen Sami Salo, Ryan Parent, Lee Sweatt, Keith Ballard, Dan Hamhuis, Andrew Alberts, Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff and Alexander Edler have all missed significant time this year. And with that many players out in one season, you can imagine how many of those injuries overlapped. 

    At one point in February, the Canucks had two healthy defensemen out of their original seven they started the season with. 

    And if that wasn't enough, they were also without feisty winger Alex Burrows for the first month while he recovered from torn labrum surgery. 

    Yes, after seeing the number of players the Canucks have been forced to play without this season, it's a wonder they still sit atop the standings in the Western Conference.

    But with the Sedin twins leading the way, Ryan Kessler making a pitch for the Hart Trophy and Roberto Luongo having maybe his best season ever, they still manage to get by all right. 

Colorado Avalanche

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    Looking at the Colorado Avalanche's injury list from this season is almost laughable. They haven't gone one month without suffering some sort of injury to a key member of their club. 

    In February alone, Matt Duchene, Adam Foot, T.J. Galiardi and Kyle Cumiskey have all been put on the injured reserve, putting a team that looked to be in a playoff hunt well back in the pack. 

    Duchene's recent hand injury may have been the final nail in the coffin this season. 

    Thanks to all the players having to sit out, the Avs have a better chance at the NHL Draft lottery than they do the postseason. 

    They've also had key injuries to Peter Mueller, Craig Anderson, Kyle Quincey, Chris Stewart and Tomas Fleischmann, which is clearly too much for one team to overcome in the long run. 

    The wave of injuries may also have played a role in why the team has been so active recently in the trade market and they are rumored not to be done. 

Ottawa Senators

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    To say this season has been a forgettable one for the Ottawa Senators would be an understatement. But the fact is it can't be over soon enough so they—and their fans—can forget it. 

    And a lot of that has to do with injuries. 

    Filip Kuba broke his leg at the start of the season. Jason Spezza was out for an extended period with a shoulder injury, as was Alex Kovalev with a knee issue. 

    And now captain Daniel Alfredsson is out with a back injury. 

    The goalie situation has been out of control and may be the area in which they've been hurt the most.

    Pascal Leclaire has been on the injured reserve multiple times with groin and related lower-body injuries. Brian Elliott has also had his setbacks and he never really was able to find his groove before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche. 

    In all, the Senators have used five different goaltenders this season. And none of them have really stepped up as the No. 1. 

    The season is already considered lost, and no matter who comes back at this point, the team is already fully focused on the future. 

New Jersey Devils

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    Conversation about injuries for the New Jersey Devils doesn't go far without mentioning Zach Parise, who's been out of the lineup since December with a torn meniscus. He is the heart and soul of the Devils, and his loss has been a huge step back for the club. 

    Even though they've been the hottest team in the NHL of late, they're still not the same without Parise. 

    It has also been a difficult year for Martin Brodeur, who has been on and off the injured list multiple times. He's had both knee and elbow issues this season, and after playing in 70-plus games in 11 of the past 12 seasons, he's only played 38 thus far in 2010-11. 

    October was one of the worst months for the club, when they had six key players go on the injured reserve, including Bryce Salvador, Brian Rolston and Anton Volchenkov. 

    They won three games that month. 

    The fact that they've won 14 of their past 16 games is even more impressive because both Brodeur and Parise are still out. 

New York Islanders

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    The New York Islanders have had more man-games lost than any other team in the league this season, and it's not much of a race. They've already eclipsed 400.

    Nowhere are they hurting more than between the pipes, where the club has used six different goalies this season. Their current one-two punch in the crease is Al Montoya and Nathan Lawson. 

    Yes, they're hurting. 

    Rick DiPietro—the human injury machine—is out yet again after fracturing a cheek bone in that infamous fight with Brent Johnson. Kevin Poulin dislocated his kneecap in pregame warm-ups just a few weeks ago. Current backup Lawson missed significant time as well with an MCL injury earlier in the year.

    And the list just keeps on going—a list that includes Doug Weight, Blake Comeau, Frans Neilson, Milan Jurcina, Mark Eaton, Radek Martinek, Trent Hunter and Bruno Gervais. 

    Kyle Okposo just returned to the lineup this week after being out since the beginning of the season with a shoulder injury. 

    The most significant loss happened before the season even began, when Mark Streit went down with a shoulder injury in September during a scrimmage. He hasn't been back since.

    Streit is the Islanders' best defenseman and his loss left the team with a huge void on the blue line that they haven't been able to fill. 

    It played a major role in why the team sits 13th in the East.