[Editor's Note: This is a great piece that was written prior to Saturday's game against Islanders, so any reference to "tonight' refers to that game - FrankD]
Is it Dan Bylsma's system? Is there something that the Penguins are doing now that they have not in the past that is causing them to be more injured than we can remember? A few people got together on Twitter and had an adult conversation on the topic. In the end some of us hypothesized that the aggressive, playoff style the Penguins currently play could be a contributor to the lack of jump the Penguins have each night, but it does not account for broken wrists and concussions.
I however was not satisfied to be done with just a conversation. I wanted to know if there was an uptick in injuries since Dan Bylsma took over as Penguins Head Coach. The only real way to look at that would be through the Man-Game Lost statistic. It is not a stat that the NHL tracks so I dug and reached out and was able to put together some solid numbers. Those after the jump.
First I need to say thanks to James Mirtle of the Globe & Mail. Prior to becoming a real journalist he was a blogger and is still pretty much the internet's resident man-games lost guru (he cares about it, not many other people do). With his help and the archived data on his old blog, along with the Penguins current supplemental statistics listing and the Penguins Media Guide from the past few years I was able to put this data together.:
Looking at the numbers you will see that while there was a noticable dip during the 06-07 season, that the Penguins have consistently ranged around 300-ish in Man-games lost (Sid's Injury alone accounts for the discrepancy/uptick last year). There is no distinct difference in the data for the two coaches.
However the projection for this year looks dire. I'm not a fan of projected statistics. There are too many variables in an 82 game season. However its the only reference-able way to look at it in comparison. With 35% of this season's games played the Pens project to lose 378 Man-Games to injury. That's a lot. In case you've forgotten, here is this season's breakdown entering tonight's game with the Islanders:
- 1 Game: Matt Niskanen Nov. 5
- 15 Games: Zbynek Michalek Oct. 25-Nov. 19; Nov. 29-Dec. 8
- 2 Games Deryk Engelland Dec. 5-Dec. 8
- 14 Games: Ben Lovejoy Nov. 5-Dec. 8
- 2 Games: Jordan Staal Oct. 29-Nov. 3
- 2 Games: Richard Park Dec. 5-Dec. 8
- 20 Games: Dustin Jeffrey Oct. 6-Oct. 18; Nov. 15-Dec. 8
- 4 Games: Steve MacIntyre Nov. 29-Dec. 5
- 21 Games: Brian Strait Oct. 20-Dec. 8
- 8 Games: Brooks Orpik Oct. 6-Oct. 18
- 11 Games: Tyler Kennedy Oct. 17-Nov. 12
- 5 Games: Kris Letang Nov. 29-Dec. 8
- 7 Games: Evgeni Malkin Oct. 9-Oct. 11; Oct. 17-Oct. 22
- 21 Games: Sidney Crosby Oct. 6-Nov. 19; Dec. 8
The Penguins have twelve roster players who are not in the lineup entering tonight's contest.
What's the point here? Well its obvious the Penguins are hurting. This year looks like it could be worse than last year. Some critics will say "I can't remember this many concussions under Therrien" but it's not a responsible comparison. Concussion awareness and precautions have increased exponentially in the last two years.
What I am now sure of, looking at the data, is that there is no distinct difference in games missed to injury over a season between current Head Coach Dan Bylsma and his predecessor Michel Therrien.
We can go ahead and put that one to bed via the judicious use of facts.
Again thanks to @Stoosh10, @leahbackus and @nafsnep for the inspiration to dig this stuff out and to @mirtle for the replies on Twitter and help getting it done.