It wasn’t just his injury that cost them the series, but if he stays healthy, the outcome will likely be different. What if Brayden Point is not injured after the season? Would it have made a difference in the Stanley Cup Final?
We’ll never know, but given how dominant he was in the previous playoffs, a health point would have given Lightning more attacking hits. But Tampa Bay can’t complain too much because 15 skaters play all 23 games alongside Andrei Vasilevsky in goal. Zac Bogosian played 22 matches. The point was the only major injury, but it was a major injury at the worst possible time. There is no way to prepare for that. Tampa had good depth, but when you lose the player who led your team in goals over the previous two championship rounds, it’s a huge blow.
Injuries in the playoffs can significantly change the outcome of any series, and in the regular season, health can be a major reason why some teams make playoffs while others fail.
In 2022, Las Vegas lost more than 500 games due to injury. Mark Stone missed 45 games, Max Pasuritti missed 43 games, and Alex Martinez missed 56 games. Robin Lehner struggled with injuries late in the season and Vegas ended up missing the playoffs by three points. If they weren’t devastated by major players’ injuries, they could potentially score two more victories and go into the playoffs.
Visualizing an NHL injury. The man lost matches due to injuries and health protocols versus team wins. Bubble size represents the cumulative quality of lost game players (Lost-ps scale) https://t.co/lRequqYI1r pic.twitter.com/WC1SLpm6dR
– Man-Games Lost NHL (ManGamesLostNHL) May 2, 2022
In fact, the Oilers have had the most games lost by men due to injury to 16 playoff teams, but not every game lost by a man is equal. Vegas lost its two best scorers. Josh Archibald missed over 60 games and Kyle Torres was on the injured list for nearly 50 games with Edmonton. They’re not as skilled or valuable as Stone or Pacioretty, so we have to think about the players who got injured.
The Oilers have been without some regular players for extended periods. Mike Smith has missed 34 games, Duncan Keith 18, Darnell Norse 11, Ryan Nugent Hopkins 19, Jesse Polgojarvi 17 and Zach Cassian 24.
Meanwhile, it was clear that Calgary Flames were on the healthy side of the NHL. The Flames have each had their top six D-men play at least 73 games. D missed a total of 22 games.
Their attackers were also in good health. Johnny Goudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangjapan, Mikael Backlund and Milan Lucic have played 82 games, while Blake Coleman (81), Trevor Lewis (80) and Dillon Dube (79) have lost only six.
Shawn Monahan missed 16 games. That was the longest major hit.
Injuries don’t always determine the season…
The Flames were one of only three teams, including Pittsburgh and Washington, to have initially played six D-men over 70 games. That’s pretty high considering that only 112 D-men, with an average of 3.5 per team, have played over 70 games.
The Los Angeles Kings was the only team to have played more than 70 D-man games and that was young Tobias Bjornfot. Drew Dottie missed 43 games, Sean Walker missed 76 games, Alex Edler missed 41 games, and Mickey Anderson sat 25 games.
Walker and Dottie were RD’s first and second in 2021, and they missed 72% of the Kings’ games last season, but for all the injuries they had on the Blue Line, the Kings are still 10th in the net. . They ranked 20th in terms of goals, but they found ways to win. To the credit of the Kings they were able to make the playoffs despite several major injuries on the Blue Line.
The Penguins were healthy on the blue streak, but Evgeny Malkin and Jason Zucker each missed 41 games, while Brian Rost missed 22 and Sidney Crosby missed 13. their defense.
Boston, Dallas and Calgary all had 15 skaters playing over 70 games, but the Bruins’ regular season health won’t carry over into this season. Charlie McAvoy (shoulder) and Brad Marchand (hip) have both had off-season surgery and are expected to be back by December 1, at the earliest. Matt Gerzelec has also had shoulder surgery and is expected to be out until at least November. Mike Riley has had ankle surgery and is likely to start the season. These four players were in the top five in last season’s TOI/Team Bruins match. The Bruins need to stay on the hunt until Marchand and McAvoy return, but that’s easier said than done. They currently have $4.75 million in cover space but need to sign RFA striker Pavel Zacha and are hoping to return Patrice Bergeron for another season. They don’t have the space to sign both, unless they put one of their injured players on the LTIR to start the season, but when that player is ready to come back, he’ll be in a cover crunch.
“Availability is the best ability,” a fine line in professional sports. Players who manage to stay healthy are very valuable to the team, no matter what line or D pairing they play on. The Oilers RD depth chart is very thin with Cody Cisse, Evan Bouchard and Tyson Barry being the only ones with NHL experience. Vincent Descharnay, Phil Kemp and Michael Kesselring may be called into action this year. Desharnais is the first choice, and I expect he’ll get some games this year. They can move Philip Broberg or Slater Koekkoek to the right side if needed, but if Edmonton has two hits simultaneously in their defense, they won’t have many substitution options with the NHL experience. Signing an NHL veteran D-man, even if they have to clear the waivers and start the season in the AHL, is something I’m thinking about very strongly.
Currently, the Oilers Blue Line doesn’t have much depth of NHL experience. It’s plausible that Markus Nimelinen, Dmitriy Samorokov and Vincent Descharnay could fill the filling splendidly in the event of injuries. I actually think the Oilers would like to get some NHL games this season to see where they are. But the general lack of depth in D is why I think the inevitable trade Ken Holland would have to make to get the Oilers under the salary cap, would be a winger rather than a D-man. The only viable commercial option in defense is Tyson Barry’s D-man move with a lower header. In the max world, it’s easier said than done. Not many teams have much room to add a player, while also offering a strong NHL defender in return.
The Netherlands will have to make a deal. Oilers currently has $2.5 million in cap space to sign Keeler Yamamoto and Ryan McLeod. Yamamoto will drive more than that himself. One of Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi, Warren Foegele or Barrie will be transferred before the season starts. Opinions will differ about who it should be, but trade has to happen.
I was leaning forward, simply because of the injury error. It would be easier to fill in the center wing hole of a six than a D-man.