Thursday, March 15, 2012

More information, please

I'm still stupefied at last night's non-performance in Edmonton.  Therefore, I'm going to avoid discussing The Game That Shall No Longer Be Mentioned any further.

Remember 2011 free agent blue line pickup Radek Martinek?
He played all of seven games for the CBJ before his
season-ending injury.  That's 63 games lost right there.
In a larger sense, however, I'll suggest that the 2011-12 Columbus Blue Jackets abruptly stopped being fun - or funny - once the recent four-game win streak ended with the St. Louis games.  The drudgery of playing out the string appears to have set in, both for fans and players.  I remain hopeful that the team can find a flicker of life between now and the end of the regular season but won't go as far as to say that I'm optimistic.  This has been a brutal season, one I'm sure that the team is weary of.

I've also started thinking over the inevitable post-mortems to come on this season.  Stats will be analyzed, decisions rehashed, public utterances dissected even further.  What won't happen, at least out in public, is a meaningful discussion of perhaps the most critical component of this season's implosion: The number and severity of injuries.
If you look at the CBJ's weekly report, there's a little nugget nestled in toward the bottom of the page, right at the end of the OhioHealth Injury Report: The number of Games Missed to Injury.  If one player misses one game because of injury, add one to the tally.  The Blue Jackets, as of March 12, are at 322 and climbing.

Kristian Huselius gave the Blue Jackets thirty-two minutes
this season over two games before succumbing to injury.
There's another 68 man-games lost.
It appears that, by the time the season is done, the final number will be more than 100 additional games lost to injury compared to the 2010-11 season.

Against an 82-game season, that's the equivalent of roughly 4 NHL-caliber players that are not playing ALL SEASON LONG.  Yet the CBJ have only played 70 games so far, so there are more missed games to come.  It's staggering.

The challenge in trying to dissect the injury conundrum is that the NHL does not require teams to disclose the exact nature of the injury.  They only require that teams say if an injury is "upper body" or "lower body."  Thus, an upper body injury could be a broken hand, cracked rib, dental work or a concussion.  Lower body injuries could be a broken foot, sliced leg or hamstring pull. The descriptors are so vague as to make them useless beyond the raw tracking of numbers.  Some sites like TSN's give a little detail based, I'm guessing, upon their reporters' legwork, but those descriptions are not official.

I'd love to be able to dig deep into the injury statistics, to see if I could draw any conclusions about what happened. Were they a bunch of freak injuries - like Steve Mason's sliced up hand - or were they conditioning-related?  Was there something about how the CBJ played that left them more exposed to, say, concussions as opposed to other teams?  When you lose over 300 man-games to injury, these are reasonable questions.

We'll never know the answers to those questions, not without a policy change from the NHL, but I'd be willing to bet that the Blue Jackets are sure investigating in detail in anticipation of turning things around next year.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know any answers but I'd start feeding these guys equestrian strength calcium supplements. The number of broken bones has been crazy.

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