Happy New Year and a belated Merry Christmas to all of the TSHQers out there. I hope that all of your wildest dreams are coming true right now.
That said, there are quite a few NHL teams whose worst nightmares are coming true. Maybe it’s all a co-inkee-dink or maybe some guys have been mixing some “strong” egg nog and ice skating. Whatever the cause, some of the top players have been getting injured as of late.
The best teams are able to still be successful despite injuries, but when your #1 center or defenseman breaks a leg (literally), it’s just not something you want to deal with. You never know when or how bad, but in an 82-game season, crap happens.
So, who’s hurt and what does it mean? Let’s take a look:
The Detroit Red Wings lost arguably the best all around player in the league in Pavel Datsyuk to a broken hand that will keep him out of action for about a month or so. He does everything for the Wings and does all of it extremely well. He’s put up 97 points twice in his career and was on pace for about the same amount this season. And on top of that, he’s a multiple Selke Award winner for the best defensive forward. And despite the honor (or maybe dishonor? *chuckle*) of several Lady Byng Awards, he’s a physical presence on the ice and even did quite well for himself in a fight with Corey Perry this season.
Not helping things for the Red Wings was losing Dan Cleary to a broken ankle. The guy who never scored more than 20 goals in a season already had 16 through the first 35 games of the season before taking the shot off his foot. Cleary was a great story, so hopefully he’s out no more than a month and can pick up his renaissance where he left off. The Wings lost some good scoring punch between Cleary and Datsyuk, but as long as that Lidstrom guy doesn’t get injured, the Red Wings should be alright and still be one of the better teams in the West until the healthy players are ready to come back.
The Red Wings’ divisional rival, the Chicago Blackhawks, have had their own injury issues. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they haven’t enjoyed the same success as the Wings so far this season, so any injuries they sustain have been more taxing. Sniper Marian Hossa has already been on and off the IR, but he’s finally healthy and in the lineup again. Patrick Kane also recently spent some time on the injured list, but he was able to return to ice just in time for the captain to get knocked out. Jonathan Toews sustained a shoulder injury that has him out for two weeks. And while two weeks isn’t a terribly long time, he’s the heart and soul of the team and a very underrated captain. One or more of the young guys are going to have to step up and push themselves hard to hold the fort while he’s out especially with Hossa’s health being a question mark.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers lost defenseman Chris Pronger to a foot injury for about a month. Although he’s not what he was in his younger days, he’s still a true gamechanger and the best defenseman on the Flyers. His loss hurts, but the Flyers have a very deep defense with very underrated offseason pickups Andrej Meszaros (first in the league in +/-) and Sean O’Donnell (also near the top of the league in +/-) anchoring the 3rd pairing before Pronger’s injury. The question, however, was how would the Flyers play without their stud playing against the top players of the league. It started out very well with a strong 4-1 win over the Rangers, but the Flyers gave their fans a lump of coal with an embarrassing 5-0 to the Panthers. After an 8-day layoff (yeah, that’s a long time to not play hockey), they played another poor game against the Canucks. The offense came alive against in a 7-4 win against the stingy Kings, but they dropped the next game against the Ducks. The team is just flat out not playing good defense, and Chris Pronger wouldn’t necessarily be enough to have turned those games around. It hasn’t helped that the underrated Kimmo Timonen’s been beat up the last few games either.
Jason Spezza injured his shoulder and could be out two months. That’s not a good thing for a team that doesn’t exactly score a lot of goals. He’s had an off year so far, but he’s a premiere #1 center with a lot of talent. Losing his skills up front, even in a bad year, is rough for the Senators. The Sens don’t have the best depth at forward, so if someone doesn’t pick up the slack, Ottawa might be in for a long couple of months while he’s out.
Some other notable injuries worth noting include Ryan Whitney of the Edmonton Oilers, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Callahan. Whitney’s been having an excellent offensive year and leads the team in points. Getzlaf is out indefinitely with the pleasant nasal sinus fractures after taking a puck off the face. He’s got a ton of skill that will be missed, but the Ducks didn’t miss a beat without him against the Flyers. Callahan may not be a headliner, but he’s a very important player to the Rangers’ all around game and brings plenty of intangibles to the team.
Hopefully with the New Year, players can enjoy some good health and happiness and bring some excitement to the second half of the season.
Enjoy tonight’s Winter Classic. Just be careful to not throw up from getting Crosby and Ovechkin stuffed down your throat.