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Northwest Division filled with injuries again

Mar 17, 2011, 1:36 AM EDT

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65418_mikko_koivu AP

Man-game lost is one of those statistics people don’t really pay attention to—until, of course, it’s decimating their team. Chances are, if you’re a fan or follow the Northwest Division over the last couple of years, watching a team play without a full deck has become the norm. For some reason, this year is just a bad as last.

Last season, four of the top five teams in man-games lost resided in the Northwest Division. Edmonton (494 games lost), Colorado (340), and Minnesota (316) were the “unluckiest” teams in the entire NHL and this year isn’t shaping up much better.

“The Vancouver Canucks managed to reach 101 points in the standings, 10 more than anybody else in the league, despite 297 man games they’ve lost due to injuries.

The Minnesota Wild are up to 346.

Calgary sat at 293 going into last night’s game.

The Colorado Avalanche, who are dropping like a rock and will be here Saturday to engage (or not) in a battle to avoid the Western Conference basement with the Oilers, have more reason to be down there in terms of their M*A*S*H unit.

Colorado entered the week with 358 man-games lost to injury, the second-highest total in the league, behind the New York Islanders’ 487. The New Jersey Devils, at 352 man-games lost, were third.

Colorado is on pace to eclipse the all-time team record for man-games lost in a season — 417, with the 2003-04 edition.”

Things could be worse—but not much in the Northwest. For all of the issues on Long Island this year, people forget this could be a different team if they didn’t have to endure all of their injuries. Both Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo were hurt before the season started and Rick DiPietro did what Rick DiPietro does every year. Doug Weight was injured earlier in the year. It’s been so bad, Radek Martinek has been one of their dependable defensemen.

But no team in the Northwest has been able to hide from the injury bug. Taylor Hall, Ryan Whitney, Ales Hemsky, and Jordan Eberle have all missed enough time to make people notice. The Canucks have lost about 32 defensemen this year and the Avalanche haven’t had a player play in all 68 games. The Wild have lost their captain Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and Guillaume Latendresse for extended periods of time. The Flames have lost the irreplaceable Raitis Ivanans since he was knocked out in the first game of the season and a plethora of other players for 10-15 games. It seems ironic that they’d employ the NHL’s current ironman in Jay Bouwmeester.

So if you’re a pending free agent and looking for a new home next year, keep this in mind: The Northwest may have some passionate fans—but it might be the same kind of curse as the cover of a Madden video game.

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