Fantasy Hockey: Detailed Injury Report - Northeast Division
Yesterday, we looked at how injuries have affected the Northwest division. We discovered that the Wild, Canucks and the Oilers could potentially be excused for their slow starts, considering all the injuries they’ve accumulated. The Wild and Oilers can pretty much write off their seasons as a result, but the Canucks should start rolling with healthy bodies making their way back into the line-up. The Flames and Avs could very well be sitting in playoff positions right now thanks to their healthy line-ups.
Taking this information, and knowing that injuries, or lack thereof, could be at the very least considered when talking about team performance, how will injuries apply to the Northeast division? The Bruins and especially the Habs have both had injury woes, and struggled early on as a result. The Sabres and Sens have stayed relatively healthy and benefited as a result. But the Leafs haven’t had too many injuries, yet find themselves with the Oilers and Wild, at the bottom of the standings.
Therefore, today, we look at injury reports from these five teams, and how their respective injured players will affect these teams through the tough month of December. First, an explanation of the scale I have been using:
Major Injuries include long term injuries that have been confirmed to be over a month long, to players of great importance to their specific teams. Usually one or two players will be included in this category, if any.
Key Injuries include significant players who are due to be out for at least a week, or major injuries who are on the verge or returning.
Minor Injuries are less significant players, day-to-day injuries, that sort of thing.
Earlier injuries: are players who have already returned from injuries earlier in the season. Only players who have missed more than a game will be included here. Finally, Affect is a short analysis on how injuries have affected this team over the first few months of the season.
Data was compiled using lists and player reports from ESPN, Yahoo, TSN, Rotoworld, and other major news and fantasy sources.
Here is today’s division, the Northeast:
Major Injuries Milan Lucic, high ankle sprain, out 1 month.
Milan Lucic was supposed to be a breakout player this year. He had a great season last year with the powerhouse Bruins, but with Phil Kessel gone, the light was ready to shine on the power forward. Having already missed a month with a broken finger, the news of Lucic’s latest injury is devastating for both Lucic and the Bruins, who will miss another month with an ankle sprain. One can only hope this doesn’t become a pattern for Lucic, who just signed a brand new 3-year extension with the Bruins.
Key Injuries: NONE
Minor Injuries: Tim Thomas (unknown, has been on bench while Tukka Rask gets the starts).
Earlier injuries: Krejci (2 games, H1N1, also missed preseason), Savard (15 games, broken foot), Wideman (3 games, shoulder), Bitz (3 games, Groin).
Affect: It’s somewhat ironic that once the Bruins finally get Patrice Bergeron back to form, after he missed an entire year two years ago to concussion symptoms and struggled last year, both of their top two centers had trouble. Savard missed most of the season so far with a broken foot, and Krejci struggled after missing training camp and falling to the swine flu, and along with Lucic’s injuries, it showed in the Bruins’ first month of play. However the Bruins have returned to form, silently overtaking the top spot in the Northeast from the Sabres and going 6-1-3 in their last 10.
Major Injuries Andrei Markov, sliced tendon, 3 to 4 months.
The worst thing that could happen to a team is for them to lose their franchise player to a major injury in the first game of the season. On October 1st, nightmare became reality for the Montreal Canadiens, as Andrei Markov was on the receiving end of a freak accident involving a tendon in his ankle and Carey Price’s skate. Last week we learned that Markov could return earlier than expected, as early as the end of December, however it’s been a rough two months for the Habs without their number one defenseman.
Brian Gionta, broken left foot, out indefinitely
Although not seemingly as grave as the Markov injury, Gionta is a still a huge loss for the Habs, who rely heavily on their top line for offense as well as leadership. An early candidate for the captaincy, Gionta was backing up his hype with 8 goals through 19 games and very consistent play. A broken foot not only hurts his season and the Habs, but pretty much kills any small chance he had at making team USA for next year’s Olympics.
Key Injuries: Scott Gomez (groin), will be back this week (as early as Tuesday vs. the Leafs), but has hurt the already ailing habs in his absence these last few games. Andrei Kostitsyn (leg, or possibly hand) is also day-to-day. He took a slash, followed by a blocked shot last Wednesday against the Pens, and his status is uncertain. Hal Gill (Hairline fracture, foot) may be big and clumsy, but his absence is sorely missed on the back end. He should be back within a week or two.
Minor Injuries: Matt D’Agostini (Concussion, 1 week), Benoit Pouliot (wrist).
Earlier injuries: Metropolit (6 games, ribs), Hamrlik (1 game and preseason, illness), Spacek (2 games, lower body), Laraque (8 games, back), O’Byrne (19 games, knee).
Affect: The Habs have one of the longest injury lists in the league this season. Players on this team are dropping like flies. Only 7 skaters have dressed for all of the Canadiens games, and although they’ve struggled defensively as a result, they’ve been lucky enough to stay somewhat on par with a 12-12-2 record, thanks to strong goaltending and strong leadership by the remaining healthy players, and they should play a lot better once they’re healthy, and certainly once Markov is back on the roster.
Major Injuries NONE
Key Injuries: John Mitchell (knee) is on IR and is out indefintitely. Vesa Toskala (groin) is on IR but is considered day-to-day. That, however, might be good news for the leafs). Mike Komisarek (leg) has been out for three weeks but will likely be back tonight.
Minor Injuries: Mike Van Ryn (knee) is out for the season. His career is arguably over.
Earlier injuries: Kessel (shoulder surgery, 12 games and preseason), Primeau (4 games, shoulder).
Affect: It’s interesting enough that the Leafs didn’t have that many injuries in this early part of the season. A lot of the struggles teams have had around the league can be attributed to injuries, but the leafs were mostly injury free. But despite high expectations, they find themselves relatively healthy and in the cellar of the eastern conference. One can only imagine their record if more key players had injured in October and November.
Major Injuries NONE
Key Injuries: Paul Gaustad (knee), is slated to miss a few weeks. This will hurt the Sabres as he is their best faceoff man and an unsung hero for the team. Craig Rivet (leg) is day-to-day after sliding into the boards feet-first on Friday, but his injuries aren’t too severe.
Minor Injuries: NONE
Earlier injuries: Grier (groin, 5 games), Sekera (rib, 7 games)
Affect: The Sabres are another team who’s correlation between the standings and their injuries is blatantly evident. A team that many wrote off in their pre-season predictions, two months in, the Sabres sit 1 point behind the Bruins for the division lead with only 23 games (3 less than the bruins). Ryan Miller is on his game and it shows. If the Sabres can maintain this healthy state, the playoffs look to be in their future this season.
Major Injuries Pascal Leclaire, broken jaw, late December.
In one of the funnier injury stories since Glenn Healy broke his finger playing the bagpipes, Leclaire broke his face while sitting on the bench as a back-up in a recent game, when a puck hit him in the face. Leclaire isn’t a stranger to injury, consistently suffering minor and major injuries throughout his career, was finally catching a break as the starter in Ottawa before this happened. Brian Elliot will now carry the load.
Key Injuries: Chris Neil (knee), is out until mid-December, which is unfortunate for the agitator, who was playing some of his best hockey ever. Anton Volchenkov (dislocated elbow) is set to return this week. He’s still on pace for a career offensive year despite missing 14 games, and might be an interesting fantasy pick-up.
Minor Injuries: Donovan (knee, week-to-week)
Earlier injuries: Fisher (2 games, upper body), Shannon (3 games, concussion), Kuba (8 games, lower body), Spezza (2 games, upper body)
Affect: The Sens are another team who were pretty lucky with injuries this year, as Volchenkov has been their only really significant injury thus far, and they’ve been rewarded with a playoff position for it through 24 games. The real test is now, December, where they schedule gets tougher and they have to do it without their number one goalie. Elliot is certainly good and can handle the load of a well-used back-up (or #1B), but Ottawa has 17 games in 31 days in December, and Elliot will have to play most of them until Leclaire is ready to return. If they can stay the course through this stretch, the Sens will be in a good position heading into the race for the playoffs.
As we've already said, using injuries as an excuse for poor play is iffy at times. But in the case of the Boston Bruins as well as the Montreal Canadiens, the excuse is certainly valid. A team can't be missing their top center, and have their second line center struggle due to injury, and be expected to perform at their normal level, and that showed early in the season for the Bruins. Now that they're starting to get healthy, they're rolling. And you can expect the Habs to react the same way when their forwards get healthy and Andrei Markov returns to action.
The Sabres and Sens have benefited from all these teams who's players are dropping like flies, and once again, it shows in the standings. The Leafs, well, they're just the Leafs.
Tomorrow, we'll cover the Central division.