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In one of their healthiest seasons in recent memory, the Canucks still faced their fair share of injuries this year

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Photo credit:© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 month ago
Every fanbase thinks that the officials are biased against their team.
Every fanbase feels like their team suffers injuries more than most.
But if you’re a fan of the Vancouver Canucks, the latter is actually and demonstrably true.
(And the former’s probably true, but that’s a whole ‘nother article.)
Year in and year out, the Canucks run into considerable injury trouble. It’s not really much mystery as to why that is. Even with the advent of the Seattle Kraken, the Canucks remain the most geographically-isolated franchise in the NHL. That means more travel, and more travel equates to less practice, rest, and recovery time, and that in turn leads to more injuries.
There’s also the fact that the franchise appears to be cursed.
But the 2023/24 campaign has been an atypical one for the Canucks in many ways, and that includes it being one of their healthiest seasons in recent memory.
The Canucks have been especially fortunate in that, up until Thatcher Demko’s ongoing absence, they had not faced a major injury to a star player. (Unless we’re counting Dakota Joshua as a key player, which, honestly, maybe we should be…)
That being said, when it comes to Vancouver and injuries, “fortunate” only really adds up to them having faced an only roughly average amount of time lost, as opposed to a league-leading amount.
The folks over @NHLInjuryViz on Twitter do a thorough and diligent job of tracking what they’re named for, and they update their tracking every weekend.
With this being the final weekend before the final weekend before the playoffs, it seems like a good time to look back at the injuries that were.
By the raw and somewhat-neanderthalically-phrased measure of “man-games lost,” the Canucks sit at the exact halfway point in the league, 17th overall with 203 man-games lost.
That being said, we have to consider that a full 76 (as of April 5) of those man-games lost belong to Tucker Poolman, a player who no one ever had much hope or intention of actually playing in 2023/24.
Of course, the Canucks aren’t the only team with an “LTIRetired” player on their roster. If we’re taking those 77 games off of their total, we’d also have to shave some off the top of Vegas for Robin Lehner, bringing them down a little bit from their league-leading total. For whatever reason, teams like Philadelphia (Ryan Ellis), Montreal (Carey Price), Tampa Bay (Brent Seabrook), and, naturally, Arizona (Shea Weber, Jakub Voracek, Bryan Little) have already had their LTIRetired players taken out of NHLInjuryViz’s equations.
The account offers up an alternate measure, which is “in-season man-games lost.” By that count, the Canucks sit tied with Winnipeg for the eighth-lowest amount at 107 man-games lost.
Then again, that total does not include Teddy Blueger’s injury sustained in preseason, which kept him out for the first 14 games, or either of Carson Soucy or Ilya Mikheyev’s early absences, and they really should be counted. That puts the Canucks at 127 true man-games lost thus far, which sounds closer to reality and is again right about at league-average.
There are more ways to measure the impact of injury loss.
NHLInjuryViz puts the “Viz” in their name with their injury stack charts, which paint a nice colourful picture of, again, a roughly-average impact of injuries on the Canucks when estimated by things like WAR, cap hit, and missing ice-time.
A more general summary chart has the Canucks having missed out on an average missing cap hit of $6.4 million, an average minutes-loss of 44 minutes, and a lost WAR count of 1.37, all right around the middle-of-the-road for the NHL in 2023/24.
Sure, it might sound weird to celebrate the Canucks only suffering the average amount of injuries, but as we said at the outset, that’s still a major and positive change for this franchise.
But lest we be accused of being too overly positive in the wake of some tough losses, we will allow that there are a few measures through which the old Canuck luck shines through.
Hockey, as we often say, is a “what have you done for be lately?” sport, and injuries have not been kind to the Canucks of late.
NHLInjuryViz has Vancouver with the seventh-highest missing WAR from their team as of right now, which can largely be attributed to the absences of Demko and Elias Lindholm.
The Canucks only rank tenth on the same list as measured by cap hit, which can largely be attributed to Demko and Lindholm being signed to fairly bargain contracts.
Another interesting way to look at it is to measure not by man-games lost, but by games in which a team was able to ice a fully healthy roster.
Obviously, the overall chart here is useless when it comes to the Canucks, as is the blueline specific chart, because the number there is “zero,” what with Poolman having been injured since Day One.
But NHLInjuryViz does include a forward-specific count, too, and that has the Canucks as having played just 12 games in 2023/24 with a fully healthy forward lineup. That is tied with the Jets for only the 15th-highest total in the league, but there are teams on there with forward-playing Poolmans of their own that skew the numbers.
The only other way to look at it is just blow-by-blow.
The Canucks started with a two-game absence for Soucy, a four-game absence for Mikheyev and a 14-game absence for Blueger to start the year.
Andrei Kuzmenko got hit in the face with a puck and missed a game.
Pius Suter missed 14 games in a row, ending in December.
Carson Soucy missed another 23 games, returning in January only to be out again shortly thereafter for another 17. Soucy’s injuries, more than anything, have weighed heavily on the Canucks this season.
Nikita Zadorov missed a game in January.
Phil di Giuseppe was out for 14 games, ending in February.
Tyler Myers missed five games in March.
And then also returning in March was another big one, Dakota Joshua, who had been absent the last 18 games and sorely missed.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention Guillaume Brisebois, on season-opening injured reserve for the first 63 games of the season.
Then, of course, there’s the ongoings. Poolman since Day One. Lindholm since March 23, though he was reportedly injured much earlier. Demko since March 9.
Again, it all adds up to the Canucks having been impacted by injuries a roughly league-average amount in 2023/24, any way you slice it. In other words, their exact fair share.
And there’s really two ways one can look at that.
One could reason that it’s a bit of a sad statement that, even in the healthiest Canucks season any of us can remember, they still can’t do any better than middle-of-the-road on injuries.
The other way is to realize that this is the Canucks we’re talking about, and that given what they’re used to with injuries, this is a “they’ll take what they can get” sort of situation.
Suffice it to say that if this were an average Canucks season for injuries, as opposed to a league-average season, they wouldn’t be anywhere near as high in the standings as they currently are.
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