A great deal of the discussion of the 2015-16 Calgary Flames season has involved mention of injuries. In particular, the impact of T.J. Brodie’s nine-game absence to open the season has been pointed to as something that really derailed the Flames from the get-go.
We dug through the game-sheets and put together a rundown of all of the Flames injuries this season to show just how big an impact injuries had on the Flames this season.
THE WALKING WOUNDED
Twenty different Flames players missed (at least) one game due to a disclosed injury. (As in, it was mentioned either before or after the game via official channels that they missed the game due to injury). All-in-all, the Flames lost 204 man-games to injury (on average, two or three players were absent per game):
- Lance Bouma – 36 games (broken leg, leg laceration, and an oblique injury)
- Yes, Bouma had three different injuries, and none of them were related to shot-blocking.
- Ladislav Smid – 32 games (recovering from neck surgery, then a separate neck injury)
- Karri Ramo – 29 games (knee injury)
- Ramo was injured in a goal-mouth collision.
- Michael Frolik – 18 games (shoulder injury, then groin injury)
- Dennis Wideman – 12 games (tricep injury)
- Jonas Hiller – 12 games (groin injury)
- Hiller was (also) injured in a goal-mouth collision.
- T.J. Brodie – 12 games (broken hand, then a mid-body injury)
- Micheal Ferland – 11 games (knee injury, then concussion)
- Kris Russell – 10 games (hand injury, then a lower-body injury)*
- Jiri Hudler – 7 games (illness**, then groin injury)
- Joe Colborne – 5 games (hand/wrist injury)
- Sam Bennett – 5 games (upper-body injury, then mid-body injury)
- Josh Jooris – 3 games (unspecified injury)
- Jyrki Jokipakka – 3 games (hip injury)
- Deryk Engelland – 2 games (lower-body injury, then unspecified injury)
- Johnny Gaudreau – 2 games (hand/wrist injury)
- Gaudreau’s absence was due to recurring hacks and slashes to his hands and wrists.
- David Jones – 2 games (lower-body injury)
- Jakub Nakladal – 1 game (ankle injury)
- Derek Grant – 1 game (unspecified injury)
- Matt Stajan – 1 game (unspecified injury)
Regular players that missed zero games due to disclosed injuries include: Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, Mikael Backlund, Sean Monahan, Brandon Bollig, Markus Granlund (before the trade) and Mason Raymond (before his AHL demotion).
*- Russell missed seven games with a mysterious lower-body injury and was subsequently traded. There were murmurs that the Flames were holding Russell out longer than they normally would because of his status as a prime trading chip; while I strongly doubt the Flames were fibbing openly about Russell’s condition (he was probably hurt), I also strongly believe that they were holding him out until he was definitely 100%.
**- Similarly, Jiri Hudler (another prime trading chip) missed a few games with an illness in the first half of the season. It’s possible that the Flames held out the under-performing Hudler for longer than they normally would in order to ensure he was 100% recovered (and/or to send a message to the locker room about performance).
A THOUGHT ON THE BLUELINE
Before the season began, the hockey world looked at Calgary’s blueline depth and went “holy moley, that’s a good blueline.” The six-man grouping of Kris Russell, Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, T.J. Brodie, Dougie Hamilton and Deryk Engelland was widely considered one of the best groups in the league (on paper).
But between injuries (to Brodie, Wideman and Russell), suspensions (Wideman) and healthy scratches (Engelland), the Flames never really got their whole group together consistently. In the 61 games prior to the trade deadline, the team’s primary six defenders dressed together for just 28 games (and never more than seven consecutive games).
It’s not likely an explanation for all of the team’s wild inconsistencies throughout the season, but when their defensive group was considered to be a big strength for them, not having them available consistently probably wasn’t a great start.