How injuries affect the first part of the NHL season


Let’s talk about injuries and goalkeeping because injuries and goalkeeping were the double story that dominated the first week or so of the new week. NHL season. Injuries almost always undermine the best laid plans any NHL team can hope for.

Last week, on a preview podcast for the NHL season, I was asked to predict the Stanley Cup Final because that’s what you do in this business — make informed guesses to create fodder for the conversation.

But I always issue the same warning: that a championship contender in April will often look a lot different than the team that started the season in October, and not just because of the moves the team might make during the season or on the trade deadline.

Let’s face it, even the most daring trade deadline move will probably put a team one or two more pieces.

You win tournaments based on your core and how your core performed when the playoffs started. And if your heart is missing a major piece or two, that’s too bad, too sad—but your chances have evaporated like morning mist.

The problem with injuries is that it’s just a random factor in the game that you can’t really control. Smart managers and coaches know the answer is always the same if you lose Patrick LinAnd the Aaron Ekblad or a Gabriel Landskog for any extended period of time. So-and-so cannot be replaced, but someone else will have the opportunity to advance.

But you know deep down, they just read from a prepared text that they honestly don’t believe what they’re saying and go to bed at night, swearing at the dark, hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. The truth is that NHL general managers are often pessimistic at heart. They know that while they can plan and build a list well, the difference between a successful and unsuccessful year can sometimes come down to pure luck and who stays healthy when it matters most.

General managers can also do the math – the salary cap forced them to learn. It also brought a new appreciation and understanding of possibilities. In the second year of Seattle KrakenIn its existence, the chances of actually celebrating the Stanley Cup are now one in 32. Or, on average, three championships per franchise in the century.

The reason they don’t say any of that out loud is because they are convinced – incorrectly, I think – that their fan bases can’t handle the truth. Sometimes the only people who can reasonably indicate the impact of injuries are the host team announcers. So, for example, there was a compelling graphic shown during the Vegas-Calgary telecast on Tuesday that evaluated not only the men’s games lost to injury, surface-scratching stats, but also the games a man lost to the top six attackers, and four defenses and goalkeepers. This is much more meaningful and gives a more honest reading of how injuries can affect and undermine the team.

Now, deciding who fits into these categories can be tricky, because sometimes, you might think that a player in the middle of the squad fits in the top half of the roster and I might put him in the bottom half.

But realistically, the more likes a Jack Eichela Mark Stonea Max Priority Missed the squad for a long time, as was the case in Vegas last year, most people can agree: that negatively undermines what you’re trying to achieve as a team. So this week, Florida He lost the other half of his top defensive pair, Aaron Ekblad, to an undisclosed injury.

Ekblad’s partner last year, Mackenzie Wiegard, plays in Calgary. Florida all entered the trade deadline last season, in the first place Claude Giroud And the Ben Shearot, both moved on as soon as the season ended with a disappointing second-round loss. Salary cap restrictions priced in Mason’s career outside the market. Anthony Dockler He got injured during pre-season training and wasn’t ready to play either.

So the current 2022-2023 Panthers have little resemblance to the 2021-22 version of the team that won the Presidents Cup. Not only do they need to develop new chemistry, similar to what they had a year ago, but they will need to do so with a much less talented support team. It would be useful to monitor how you fare. This defense is really weak. The timeline for Ekblad’s return is murky – although his LTIR status means he’s at least 10 games on the sidelines.

But you know what they say? It’s a chance for someone else to step up. Let’s see if anyone does.

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Sixty-two goalkeepers have appeared at least once until the end of the first full week of the season, but you feel some teams will make their beginnings harder than others. Dallasfor one, 3-0 out of the gate with 13 goals in favor, and only three against and Jake Oettinger I watched a great playoff last year against Calgary, giving up only three goals in that period. This earned him one of three League Player of the Year awards in the league (other awards in that group were as well Sidney Crosby And the Conor McDavid).

Carolina Also identical to that start – only three goals against her in three matches – before oiled Freddy Andersen lit up for five Thursday night. It stands to reason that the Hurricanes will balance the workload between Andersen and You are Ranta equally in the hope of mitigating the risk of infection to which they are both susceptible. Despite the Oilers losing, Carolina was the winners of the Jennings Cup last year, and it looks like they will be one of the strongest teams in the NHL again this year.

Perhaps the most encouraging goalkeeper stories at the start of the season are played in Vegas and Buffalo. to me golden knightsAnd the Logan Thompson he is Steps inside about the wounded Robin Liner And show a wonderful battle level. He kept them in the Tuesday night game against Calgary they had no business. Thompson’s long and winding journey to the NHL revolves around the freshmen (Brandon), Canadian College (Brock University), the low-end (Adirondack Thunder, South Carolina Stingers) and then on to Henderson, the Golden Knights’ AHL, and now as a real start in Vegas.

What I like most about Thompson is the level of competition. He never gave in to pinching and his focus was great. There’s a little Grant Fuhr out there, where winning seems to be the only thing that matters.

Eric ComryAnd, in the meantime, bouncing around the NHL waiver wire so much in 2020-21, he must have gotten dizzy. Eventually, he got where he started – the Winnipeg Jets – and last year, he became Connor Hellybuyck’s trusted backup, earning him a free agent contract with buffalo Where he is paired with the veteran warrior Craig Anderson In an unlikely partnership that looks good so far.

Comrie may have scored the biggest win of his career on Tuesday when the Sabers went to Edmonton and fired McDavid and Lukete, but then backed him up with another strong outing two nights later, giving Calgary their first loss of the season. No organization needs positivity to survive more than Buffalo does. If the target direction is really holding, and Rasmus Dahlen He continues to score goals at a record pace, then Cypress can make life interesting in the Atlantic division.

Among the current NHL coaches, Daryl Sutter – who this week coached the 1400th NHL game – really likes to set a definite #1, although he has stated that he will try to get Dan Vladar to start the week to take some of the workload off of Jacob Markstrom. Vladar signed a two-year contract extension on Thursday, which probably means his team has a high potential Dustin Wolf Far from getting a full-time job in the NHL than what the AHL’s strong rookie season suggested last year.

Markstrom, who pulled out against the Sabers, finished fifth in minutes played last year. Markstrom was another world at times during 2021-22, but his start (0.867 savings and 3.43 goals-to-average) mirrored his play in the second round of the playoffs last year – mediocre at best. It needs to be better.

The kings You also need to see the progress from the goalkeeper Cal Petersenwhich only lasted for 20 minutes before being attacked by penguins Thursday night. Petersen may need a Jake Allen type reset soon. They can’t count on it Jonathan Quick forever.


Jonathan Quick. (Charles Leclair/USA Today)

Salary cap effect

Most revealing week stats? Arguably, it emerged from Monday’s Board of Governors meeting in New York, when Commissioner Gary Pittman revealed that players’ guarantee debts – which arose during the pandemic years – could be paid off by the end of this season thanks to strong revenue. If so, that means the salary cap for the 2023-24 season could rise between $4 and $5 million, although it’s likely to be a bit lower.

Of course, many teams have already spent it. For example, if you were in Calgary and split the difference between the two estimates, a $4.6 million increase in the cap would fully pay for Huberdew’s increase starting next year, from $5.9 million to $10.5 million

Inventory Lindy Ruff and Demons

In the first period of Tuesday’s match against AnaheimAnd the demons Coach Lindy Raff sang “Fire Lindy” from the crowd after she trailed 2-0. Then the Devils came back and won, and that was a career victory with 783 for Ruff, surpassing Hall of Famer Al Arbor for fifth on the all-time winners list. Then, the Devils put in their best performance so far this year, two nights later, against the Islanders that New Jersey heavily overpowered and overpowered.

Back this season

NHL PR This small block was produced from early this week. On Tuesday night, six of the eight games saw teams come back from behind to erase a multi-goal lead. Only four times in NHL history has this happened so often in one night. This does not necessarily mean that teams have completed the comeback either. Boston, for example, came close to making a comeback but eventually lost to Ottawa. But it’s a welcome change from a decade ago when teams were more successful in getting out front early and then closing in. Now, at least, there’s a reason to stay in your seats even on a slow start.

How’s Philly doing under John Tortorella?

Philadelphia He won only five times last season after giving up the first goal of the match. this year? Under new coach John Tortorella, they were 3-0 in those situations, before losing a tight game to Florida on Wednesday. Would love to see some positive vibes in Philadelphia.

There is plenty of time for the Flyers to return to base. A little chaos in the metropolitan area is a good thing.


John Tortorella. (Eric Hartline/USA Today)

Check in schedule

This is an annual pet peeve. As of Friday morning, three teams have already played six games – two that started the year in Europe (San Jose and Nashville) as well as the Kings. while, Saint Louis Only played twice. I understand that building the NHL schedule is a complex puzzle but the imbalance in the games doesn’t feel right. One less noticeable part of the 2022-23 schedule is the return of farewell weeks for the first time since 2019-20. All teams will be having their farewells around the NHL All-Star weekend (February 2-5) – 23 have their farewells into the recess and nine are out of the All-Star break.

(Top image by Aaron Ekblad: Brian Fluharty / USA Today)


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