When it comes to professional sports, injuries are something that comes with the territory.
In the NHL, injuries occur almost every game and while teams are accustomed to dealing with them in a certain way, that might change with a compressed schedule. With only 48 games on the schedule, a long-term injury might mean the whole season for some players.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how injuries have been impacting several NHL clubs this season.
Toronto Maple Leafs
If you are a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, then you certainly know what it is like to lose one of your top players.
Unfortunately the same thing happened again this season and to make things worse, it was the same player as last year. Joffrey Lupul broke his forearm when he was hit by a Dion Phaneuf shot back on Jan. 23.
This came as bad timing for the Leafs because not only is Lupul a more than solid offensive player when healthy, but the team had just signed him to a five-year, $26.5-million contract extension. Lupul came to camp in excellent shape and vowed to do everything in his power to stay healthy. Unfortunately, it has not worked out that way.
Los Angeles Kings
When the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup last season, they were solid from top to bottom and had a very healthy lineup.
Through the first few weeks of this season, however, that has not been the case. In the team’s first game of the season against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Kings lost defenceman Matt Greene for the season when he suffered a back injury.
Last season, Greene was one the team’s most reliable defencemen as he played in all 82 regular season games, had 15 points (four goals and 11 assists) and was more than steady in the Kings’ run to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Now, the team will be without him in what is already a very difficult season for the Kings.
When Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Downie plays within himself and stays out of the penalty box, he is a very effective offensive talent for his hockey club.
The Avalanche will not get to see his full offensive impact on the team this season due to an injury that Downie sustained to his knee, which turned out to be a torn ACL. Downie underwent season-ending surgery.
This was not the only significant injury for the Avalanche this season. Team captain Gabriel Landeskog was placed on injured reserve after suffering a head injury on a hit taken from San Jose Sharks defenceman Brad Stuart.
When a team has a player on the roster that has some history with injuries, it can lead to some problems in a shortened season.
This is the case for the Ottawa Senators and their injured superstar forward, Jason Spezza. Spezza, 29, is undergoing back surgery and could end up missing most of the season.
Spezza is a tough guy to replace and if the Senators want to go far in the post-season, they will need his offence.
One of the worst things that could possibly happen to an NHL team in a shortened season is to have their starting netminder get hurt.
That is the case for the Calgary Flames and their No. 1 guy, Miikka Kiprusoff.
Last Wednesday, Kiprusoff and the Flames announced that he would be day-to-day with a lower body injury after he was injured in the team’s 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
Two days later, the Flames announced that Kiprusoff was put on injured reserve along with forward Mikael Backlund, who suffered a sprained knee during last Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Blue Jackets. While “Kipper” is still listed as day-to-day, Backlund will be out for at least a month.