FanPost

Now and Then: Is this year worse than last year?

So it's that time of year again, when it seems like one more player is lost to injury during every game. We experienced it last year when the Pens did that whole "hey, our coach should totally win the Jack Adams award!" thing, and the year before there was that stretch in the middle of November where Mark Eaton was the only regular NHL D in the lineup. Martin Skoula may have been in there too, but my sources are unable to confirm whether he fits into the category of "regular NHL D" or not. Either way, it was awesome.

This time we're back at it with a broken-body-parts theme: broken wrists, broken feet and broken heads.

In a recent post, ozman_fiftyone argued 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". In support of that argument ozman compared man-games lost to injuries over the last few seasons, along with a projection for this season based on what we've seen so far.

In this post I consider a related question: how does our current injury situation stack up against what we (okay ... they ...) went through last year?

Follow me after the jump for a wee bit o' comparison.

During February 2011 the Pens were really in the thick of things, so I'll use that time frame for comparison with our current situation. And by "current" I mean "as of the middle of the Pens' December 16th game against the bleeping Ottawa frackahooligans when Paul Martin left the bench".

The first question is, obviously, who is missing from the lineup? Here's a list, along with their GP-G-A-P at the time of comparison:

Now (December 2011) Then (February 2011)
Sidney Crosby (8-2-10-12) Sidney Crosby (41-32-34-66)
Jordan Staal (28-12-6-18) Evgeni Malkin (43-15-22-37)
Kris Letang (22-3-16-19) Chris Kunitz (52-28-28-56)
Zbynek Michalek (14-1-3-4) Matt Cooke (54-10-13-23)
Paul Martin (32-1-9-10) Arron Asham (36-5-5-10)
Ben Lovejoy (13-0-1-1) Mark Letestu (50-10-10-20)
Richard Park (21-2-5-7) Mike Comrie (16-0-5-5)
Dustin Jeffrey (6-0-0-0) Eric Godard (17-0-1-1)
Robert Bortuzzo (6-0-0-0) Dustin Jeffrey (13-4-3-7)
Brian Strait (1-0-0-0) Eric Tangradi (14-1-1-2)
Nick Johnson (4-1-2-3)

All but the last three players on each list are what I will call "starters" for the Penguins -- or guys who are/were full time members of the Penguins' roster.

And here's a little more information about what we've lost:

All Players Starters
Now Then Now Then
Total Missing Players 10 11 7 8
Forwards 5 11 3 8
Defense 5 0 4 0
Goals/Game 0.14 0.30 0.15 0.30
Assists/Game 0.33 0.35 0.36 0.36
Points/Game 0.46 0.66 0.51 0.66

So last year we were missing quite a bit more on the offensive power side of things. But we already knew that. The discrepancy has everything to do with the fact that all of the players who were out last February were forwards while this year our injuries are split between forwards and backwards. And sure, Sidney Crosby is out of both lineups, but the offense offered by Geno and Kunitz just plain outstrips the offensive power we're missing when a hooligan and a model take some extra time off.

Now it is of course important to score goals, and when you're left with an aged Alexei Kovalev as your go-to guy in the scoring department, odds are you're going to see a lot of overtime and shootout action. But we all know that offense is only half the game.

Right now we are missing oh-so-much more on the defensive side of things: three of our top 4 D-men are out, plus a fourth regular starter in Lovejoy (le sigh), as is our very favourite sod farmer who scores the occasional short-handed goal. And they couldn't even get their acts together so that a regular pairing would remain in the lineup. No. The hockey gods saw fit to take one of everything, leaving the remaining guys to work with new partners. Not only that, but the concussed Bortuzzo and the elbows-don't-bend-that-way Strait are two of the most NHL-ready call-ups that we have on D. Their absence is straining the system, and it's starting to show.

[Edit: Just to add to the losses on the defensive side of things, it looks like Craig Adams (32-3-3-6) is out with a lower body injury, day-to-day -- as of December 17th.]

So what say you? Can we even compare the two situations? And if so, which is worse: this year or last year?

The content expressed in fanposts does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff here at Pensburgh.com. FanPosts are opinions expressed by fans of various teams throughout the league but may be more Pittsburgh-centric for obvious reasons.

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