Man-Games Lost to Injury Mounting for Pittsburgh Penguins


As the injury report grows larger and larger by the day for the Pittsburgh Penguins, fans’ worst fears of a repeat of last year’s injury-plagued season are becoming increasingly likely with each game that passes.

By the end of the 2013-2014, the Pens had lost 529 man-games to injury, a total that not only led the league, but bested the second-best figure, held by the Detroit Red Wings, by 108 games.

While the team is only at 42 man-games lost to injury thus far, a number far from league leading at this point, it is not an outrageous expectation to see that number grow rapidly as forwards such as Chris Kunitz, Kris LetangBeau Bennett, and Pascal Dupuis fall from the ranks of the healthy with chronic or severe injuries.

At the beginning of the season, beyond the administrative overhaul of the team, most analysts pointed to the health of the Penguins as the most essential component to their potential success.

“Throughout an 82-game schedule, it is unrealistic to expect any team to avoid sustaining notable injuries,” wrote Wes Crosby for before the season began, “But Pittsburgh would benefit from not having the same misfortune when it comes to health it had a year ago.”

With two of their surefire top-six forwards out with injuries, in addition to the loss of several more important assets as well, the Penguins are looking down the barrel of a gun that they were truly hoping to avoid this year. But as the reality of this dilemma comes increasingly legitimate, it will be up to first-year Head Coach Mike Johnston and new General Manager Jim Rutherford to keep the seams together.

March 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz (14) celebrates with right wing Pascal Dupuis (9) after Dupuis scored a goal against the New York Islanders during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Although the trade deadline is not until March 2, 2015, per the rules outlined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Johnston and Rutherford must begin to work out a plan to acquire players who can keep the team moving. The success of the team’s navigation through waivers, free agency, and trades will all become an integral storyline in the outcome of the season.

Obviously, the strength of the team is not horribly compromised as long as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and new standout Patric Hornqvist remain healthy. But as the Penguins discovered last season, the superstars cannot go at it alone. Roster depth is necessary for a team to win a championship. Without several key players on both the offensive and defensive side of the puck, the Pens are at risk for suffering the same fate as last season.

Injuries are remarkably difficult thing to anticipate over the course of the season, but for now, it truly seems that something might truly be in the water at Consol Energy Center.