With only eight games remaining on the regular season schedule, the Carolina Hurricanes sit three points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. There are many reasons for why the ‘Canes have been able to maintain a winning record, but one factor that tends to get overlooked is their number of injuries (or lack thereof).
According to James Mirtle at the Globe and Mail, Carolina currently has the least amount of man-games lost due to injury in the entire league with 56. This number is astonishing low, as they are the only team with less man-games lost than total games played. While this statistic is impressive, it does not tell the whole story. One must account for the unique value of each player when determining how injuries have affected a team’s performance.
Of the 56 man-games lost due to injury for the Hurricanes, only one has come from any of their top three scorers (Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, and Tuomo Ruutu). Staal has missed one game; Skinner and Ruutu have missed none.
Carolina’s top defensemen have all remained relatively healthy as well, as Joe Corvo and Tim Gleason have skated in every contest thus far. Jamie McBain and Joni Pitkanen have been out for just 15 games combined.
Sitting a mere three points out of eighth place, one must consider Carolina’s remarkable lack of injuries as a key element for their success. Had a few players such as Staal, Skinner, or Corvo been sidelined for extended periods of time, the Hurricanes would most likely be closer to a lottery pick than a playoff berth. Considering just how close Carolina is to reaching the postseason this year, ‘Canes fans must recognize just how fortunate their team has been to avoid the injury bug.
If the Hurricanes leapfrog the Sabres or the Rangers and clinch a spot in the 2011 playoffs, pundits will be quick to point out the obvious reasons for their achievement: Skinner’s rookie campaign, Staal’s leadership, Cam Ward’s stellar goaltending, etc. Despite all the great individual performances, it would all be irrelevant had the team not stayed healthy as a whole.
The Hurricanes continue their playoff push tonight when they face off against Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning at the RBC Center in Raleigh.