Injuries Taking Their Toll in the Battle for Lord Stanley's Cup
Day 8 of the 2014 NHL playoffs is in the books, and while the Montréal Canadiens are the only team to have advanced, one issue that all the teams are starting to worry about is the injury bug.
Everyone says that the goaltender is the key to advancing in the playoffs but this spring, that distinction might go to the team trainers.
Obviously, one of the keys to success is to stay injury free. The Canadiens, who swept the Tampa Bay Lightning, benefited by facing Tampa's backup goalie, the less-experienced Anders Lindbäck. Ben Bishop, who had a great regular season, landed awkwardly making a save earlier this month:
It was the wrist, and the 6-7 Maine Black Bear was done.
The Anaheim Ducks are one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, but they are facing the Dallas Stars tonight without captain Ryan Getzlaf, who has a upper body injury. Of course, that's the most specific teams get, because they don't want their opponents to target the tender spot when a player returns.
Getzlaf was injured in Game 1, and that's putting it mildly:
The hard-nosed center played through it through the next two games, but was unable to go tonight. If Getzlaf is out for any amount of time, the Ducks could be in trouble, as was evidenced in Dallas commanding the action in their victory tonight, squaring the series at 2-2. Getzlaf was the NHL's second-leading scorer, netting 31 goals and adding 56 markers. That sort of production is hard to replace on short notice.
Colorado is another favorite out West, and they're already without leading scorer Matt Duchene. Now, the Avalanche will be forced to play without top defenseman Tyson Barrie, who was injured on a dirty hit by Minnesota's Matt Cooke. Focus on the upper right corner of the video:
Barrie could miss the remainder of the playoffs while Cooke -- a serial cheap-shot artist -- was suspended for seven games. He's luck that's all it was.
St Louis is another West favorite, but they may be missing David Backes for another game after a vicious hit by Chicago's Brent Seabrook. The Blues also learned that forward Brenden Morrow will miss the rest of the series with a lower body injury.
Detroit, now in the Eastern Conference, was hoping to get Henrik Zetterberg back in the lineup for the first time in the series, while the Bruins are hoping that Daniel Paille could return from a head injury.
The injuries go on and on. The Philadelphia Flyers are playing the New York Rangers with back-up goalie Ray Emery as Steve Mason recovers from an injury. Mason did enter the game in the third period last night and just may start Friday night when the Flyers hope to tie the series.
So yes, goaltenders are the key to any Stanley Cup run. But injuries are just as important. They're the collateral damage of playoff intensity, and the question of who hoists the hardware will be answered as much by who isn't on the ice as it will by who is.