Man-Games Lost: By The Numbers

In any sports, injuries are part of the game. When you play a contact sport, the risk is higher and when it’s a fast game like hockey, a lot can happen. The Montreal Canadiens are a walking wound, and they have been all season. As of today, 75% into their season, the Habs’ best two players have yet to play a single game. Captain and number one defenseman Shea Weber has likely played his last game in the NHL in the playoffs last season, while the team’s backbone, Carey Price, is just starting to skate with the team.

One of the Canadiens’ top-4 defenseman, Joel Edmundson, has been back for four games only and one of team’s assistant-captain, Paul Byron, has only played 15 games so far. Prior to the game against the Boston Bruins, the team had played 62 games.

According to, as of March 19th, the Canadiens led the NHL in man-games lost to injury and health protocols by an astonishing 130 man-games! Here are the top-5 teams having suffered the most this season:


Reversely, here is the NHL’s bottom 5 teams for man-games lost to injury and health protocols so far this season.


While it is a guideline to give us an idea of the overall picture of a team, there are three things to consider when looking at man-games lost.

  1. It doesn’t take into consideration the quality of the players out of the line-up. For example, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, between the two, have missed one game all season. If one, or both, would count in the man-games lost, the impact on the Oilers would be more devastating… as it did for the Habs.
  2. A bad team is a bad team, and the players staying healthy won’t make them better. The New York Islanders are an example of that. The team is aging and they simply had a bad season, in spite of being healthy all year.
  3. A team with little quality depth will be affected more, even if they don’t miss as many man-games as others. The Minnesota Wild and the Nashville Predators are in that boat.

I have to say that in over 50 years of watching the NHL, I don’t remember a team having been hit as hard as this year’s Montreal Canadiens. It is truthfully unique. And for that reason, what we saw this season, where the team is sitting in the standings, is not reflective of the team’s performances or quality. The old cliché is to not blame injuries but in a league with this much parity, missing so many key players for as long as they have, does have a negative effect on their performances and, ultimately, the standings.

A GM and a coach have lost their jobs this year in large part because of it. What’s done is done, the team is slowly returning to health and new management is making changes. The future is bright in Montreal and they will not be in the same position in 12 months when we talk again.

More reading…

Petry vs Lindholm

Habs Must Right The Ship On Defense

The R-Word Not In Hughes’ Vocabulary

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