We always recommend checking team beat reporters and social media closer to game time. The purpose of checking on a game before it starts is not only to review which goalie will start the game but if there are any notable additions to the NHL injury report.
While some teams can endure injuries and survive with players sometimes returning to the lineup, having (partially) recovered from injury, other injuries are catastrophic.
Insidersbettingdigest is eschewing NHL team stats, taking a look at the Stanley Cup injuries that have helped eliminate heavy Stanley Cup favorites early in the playoffs while highlighting how avoiding injury – or players returning from injury – has helped teams find their way into the Conference Finals.
Out With the Betting Favorites
While the NHL and NBA playoffs have been rough on top seeds, you could argue there hasn’t been a more shocking upset this year than the Florida Panthers erased a 3-1 series deficit to eliminate the Boston Bruins in seven games in the first round.
While we can look at NHL players stats and sift through a myriad of advanced analytics to find many reasons the Panthers’ upset the Bruins, the injury report played a role in Florida’s shocking upset.
The Boston Bruins entered the playoffs missing their leader Patrice Bergeron but jumped out to a 3-1 series lead without him. However, Bergeron was fit enough to play in games 5-7 but wasn’t healthy or productive: Bergeron was playing with a herniated disc, and his NHL player stats reflected that. Bergeron only scored one goal and was a -6, despite having a better faceoff percentage.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Before Maple Leafs’ fans demanded the smoke from the Florida Panthers in the streets of Toronto, they were entering the post-season with questions about their goaltending. Toronto had split the season between their two goalies, entering the Stanley Cup playoffs without Matt Murray while Ilya Samsonov was fighting injury issues.
Although Toronto defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in round one, one could argue their Stanley Cup injuries to their goaltending ended the Maple Leafs’ hopes for a run to the Stanley Cup final, considering they relied on third goalie Joseph Woll – who played admirably – to deal with the smoke from the Panthers in round two.
Toronto prospect Matthew Knies was lost early in the series when performing well and providing value to the Maple Leafs’ playoff push once inserted into the line-up. Injuries to the opposition also helped the Maple Leafs eliminate Tampa Bay in the first round.
The Colorado Avalanche were the reigning Stanely Cup Champion but buried by injuries. The Avs persevered without Nathan MacKinnon, Valeri Nichushkin, and three of their top-six defenseman for major portions of the season.
The Avs were also without their captain, Gabriel Landeskog, whose recovery from a knee injury was consistently extended throughout the season every time an expected return date neared. Not only did the Landeskog injury affect Colorado’s playoff run, but it will also affect their 2023-24 season, as Landeskog will miss all of 2023-24 recovering from cartilage replacement surgery.
Injuries and the Four Teams Remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs
Stanley Cup Injuries have been a bigger story for the remaining teams in the Western Conference than the Eastern Conference.
The Vegas Golden Knights have a lengthy injury report that has defined their season, they’re driven by Mark Stone, who has dealt with a back injury, leaving practice early during VGK’s series against the Edmonton Oilers. The Golden Knights without Mark Stone don’t make it past the Dallas Stars, while VGK with Mark Stone has a 2-0 series lead heading to Dallas.
As for the Dallas Stars, Joe Pavelski was unconscious on the ice in round one against the Minnesota Wild, while defenseman Miro Hesikanen blocked a shot with his face before the Seattle Kraken scored. Both players were back in the lineup quickly and were impactful for Dallas since, helping the Stars remain in Stanley Cup contention.