The New York Islanders have had the unfortunate privilege of leading the NHL in the least envious statistical category this season: Man-games lost.
With just three games remaining on the schedule, surely the Isles were out of time to pad that total.
Turns out that was merely wishful thinking, as the team announced that Frans Nielsen and Milan Jurcina will be shut down for the rest of 2010-2011.
Nielsen suffered a concussion during last week's Islanders-Rangers game at Nassau Coliseum when he was clocked by Ranger forward Marian Gaborik, falling head first into the boards. Gaborik did not even receive a major penalty, nor did he face further discipline from league officials.
Frans Nielsen was, in my humble opinion, the team's MVP this year.
He has shown that there's simply nothing he can't do, whether it be killing penalties, playing the point on the man advantage, scoring at even-strength or notching a key shootout tally.
He finished the season with 44 points, a new career high.
Speaking of shootouts, he might just be the most consistent scorer in the NHL. We've seen him pull off the same forehand-backhand move with great success and, to me, when you're able to do the same thing time and time again, that speaks volumes about your scoring ability.
Nielsen also happens to be one of the better defensive forwards in the league, and it shows in the form of plus-minus statistics.
Jurcina's injury occurred during a team practice last Tuesday. The Slovakian defenseman left the ice after tweaking his hip.
This was Milan's first season in New York and he did not disappoint, using his size and skill to become one of the team's top blueliners. We'd like to see him shoot the puck more often because he's got a cannon of a slap shot. He managed 17 points for the Islanders this year, but he has the potential to surpass that mark in 2011-2012.
For some reason or another, the Isles' record with Jurcina in the lineup is astonishingly better than it is when he's on the sidelines.
This is a smart move for the Islanders. There's absolutely no reason to rush either of these players back, especially with just 180 minutes of hockey left in their season.
Why risk further injury? Be patient and let these guys heal properly.
It's the closest thing to an insurance policy on the team's future and, wisely, the New York Islanders aren't risking anything.
Follow Daniel Friedman on Twitter: @dfriedman_isles
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