Can you remember a time in hockey when so much was being made of who was ‘not‘ playing in the NHL. I guess it’s the season of the injury bug to the extreme!
With big names like Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, Jeff Carter, Zdeno Chara, Ryan Miller, Marc Staal, Martin St. Louis, and Milan Michalek just to name an elite few – all spending time on the sidelines with various ailments this season, how are teams to cope?
Depth is the name of the game in today’s NHL. With it you have a fighting chance – just ask Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma how to cope minus two elite players – without this depth you’re an also ran.
So who has the ability to counter losing their best players at this time of the year? It appears that the Penguins have the most experience with just getting on with business, as they have had extended periods without Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and even Jordan Staal. There’s not many teams at any level of hockey that could lose their top three Centers and still be a regular force in their division or conference.
The Flyers have been hot as of late – and Claude Giroux was a big part of that. His 39 points was leading the NHL at the time of his recent concussion. He’s listed as ‘out indefinitely’ which is never a good sign with head trauma. The Flyers will now begin an unknown phase without their most gifted player. Other teams in the Eastern Conference will be interested to see how they cope without Giroux and Chris Pronger who’s also out with ‘concussion-like’ symptoms.
This could be a bonding and reinforcing period for Philly – or it could be a horrible turn as they forge on without two big components of their team. Can they still be a force like the Penguins are without Crosby? Time will tell – I guess ‘Tis the Season for holiday miracles!
The biggest gift for all hockey fans would be a return to the ice for all these players and more – it has been tough seeing so many greats fall with concussions and other injuries in 2011. Let’s all hope that 2012 will bring health and prosperity for all our favourite stars.
The NHL is a better place with Crosby, Pronger, Giroux and all the other guys we’re missing on the ice. Come on Santa – my fantasy team is really hurting!
You can follow Murph on Twitter @MurphOnIce