The games have started in the National Hockey League and, naturally, injuries have followed. Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov looks like he is going to miss some time.
There is a sense of inevitability to injuries in hockey. The game can be made safer but it is still really difficult for players to stay healthy for an entire season. In the shortened 56-game 2021 season, 18.8% of skaters (105 skaters out of 558, which is 31 teams times 18 skaters) appeared in all 56 games (which includes Jani Hakanpaa, who played in 57 between Anaheim and Carolina).
In 2018-2019, it was 19.0% of skaters appeared in all 82 games (106 of 558), so the shortened season was not dramatically easier but, considering it was occurring during a pandemic which caused all kinds of challenges, it should probably be seen as a relative success.
A few more recent historical rates of players to play all 82 games in an NHL season:
2012-2013: 26.1% (shortened 48-game season due to lockout)
So it appears to be trending in the right way, that it is more likely for a player to appear in every game, but the vast majority of players are going to miss time during a season.
While the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking at some positive news on the injury front, with Auston Matthews set to make his season debut Monday against the New York Rangers, there are some teams that are dealing with significant injuries already.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, infamously, did not have star winger Nikita Kucherov for the entire regular season last year but then he returned and led the playoffs in scoring on the way to a second straight Stanley Cup. It appears that Nikita Kucherov is going to miss some time again this season.
Hearing the initial word on Nikita Kucherov is not positive and surgery could be involved. Assuming that's accurate, I'd expect him to miss some time moving forward, should know more later today #GoBolts #TBLightning
— Lightning Insider (@Erik_Erlendsson) October 18, 2021
Colorado’s superstar centre Nathan MacKinonn is still out with COVID-19 and left winger Valeri Nichushkin is out with an upper-body injury. Also missing goaltender Pavel Francouz and defenceman Devon Toews, the Avs are battling to get their roster together.
Injuries have hit the Vegas Golden Knights hard. The big one is Max Pacioretty out for six weeks with a broken foot. Mark Stone is day-to-day right now but injuries have attacked the Golden Knights’ forward depth, too. Mattias Janmark, William Carrier, Brett Howden, and Nicolas Roy are all out, too.
Rangers center Ryan Strome is out due to COVID-19 protocol and right winger Kaapo Kakko suffered an upper-body injury Saturday and is on the injured list.
Detroit center Dylan Larkin has served a one-game suspension for a punch he threw at Tampa Bay’s Mathieu Joseph but Larkin is also injured so he is considered day-to-day for the Red Wings.
Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust has joined Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the injured list. This is an early season test for the Penguins’ resilience.
The Buffalo Sabres will be missing centre Casey Mittelstadt and defenceman Henri Jokiharju for weeks with upper and lower-body injuries, respectively.
San Jose defenceman Nikolai Knyzhov is out 8-10 weeks after lower-body surgery.
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek is out for a couple of weeks with a lower-body injury.
Dallas Stars defenceman John Klingberg and left winger Jason Robertson are both day-to-day.
Seattle defenceman Vince Dunn is day-to-day with an injury suffered Saturday against Columbus.
Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Anthony Stolarz could get some more action if Gibson misses some time.
The NHL season is a grind and it requires a lot of perseverance to get through to the end.
AROUND THE RINK
Ottawa: Filip Gustavsson stopped 32 of 34 shots, Chris Tierney scored two goals, and Connor Brown had three assists in a 3-2 win vs. Dallas.
Colorado: Avalanche centre Nathan MacKinnon still testing positive for COVID-19.
Boston: Jimmy Hayes had cocaine and fentanyl in his system when he died and his family bravely tells his story.
San Jose: Sharks defenceman Nikolai Knyzhov requires surgery, out for two months.
Calgary: Rasmus Andersson fined $5,000.
Buffalo: The Sabres have claimed Christian Wolanin off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings.
Not a member? Subscribe to TorontoHockeyNow today and get $10 dollars off our subscription fee of $39.99 for access to all four Canadian sites. Use promo code “Maple Leafs” to get $10 off!