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The Butcher's Bill

Even before Marian Gaborik's broken collarbone, the Blue Jackets had been adding up a significant amount of games lost to injury, but you may be surprised by the teams at the top of the list for the NHL as a whole.

Both James Wisniewski and Sergei Bobrovsky have added to the Jackets' significant amount of games lost in the 2013-2014 season.
Both James Wisniewski and Sergei Bobrovsky have added to the Jackets' significant amount of games lost in the 2013-2014 season.

I have to give credit where credit is due: I started checking this out because of one of you, dear readers!

Last week, I got an email: Do we know how we stack up against the rest of the league in man games lost to injury? It feels like there are more injuries than usual this year. Along the same lines is there a hockey equivalent of wins above replacement (WAR)? I know deeper statistics for hockey have yet to catch on (for some) but I wasn't sure.

How can I resist a question like that?  Particularly with Marian Gaborik's re-injury, this is a subject likely to become near and dear to our hearts, so let's take a look.

There's actually a really neat site that tracks not just NHL man games lost, but for pro and college sports: Man Games Lost

According to their latest weekly report, which was generated on Sunday, the 22nd, Columbus currently stands at 148 man games lost due to injury - nearly two seasons worth.

Shockingly? That's only 5th overall in the NHL right now.

Top of the list is Pittsburgh, which stands at 200 games lost, much of them from the decimation of their blue line. Behind them is Anaheim, who have lost 190, including the long term injuries to Francois Beauchemin, Luca Sbisa, and Viktor Fasth.

Third is our oppponent tonight: The Carolina Hurricanes have lost 172 games, the bulk of them from Joni Pitkanen, who will miss the entire season on IR.

Behind them in fourth place is the Edmonton Oilers, who have racked up 167 games, including Steve MacIntyre, Sam Gagner, Tyler Pitlick, Taylor Hall, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Finally, we've got our Jackets, and they're likely to climb the list. But there's more than just straight numbers reflected in those 148 games - Gagner, Sbisa, or Tanner Glass, say, don't necessarily add up to the loss of talent that Nathan Horton, Gaborik, or James Wisniewski mean to Columbus.

The NHL doesn't have an officially reported WAR stat, but the MGL guys have been working on a stat they call Time Missed Impact To Team (TMITT).  Here's their explanation of how it works:

Time Missed Impact To Team (TMITT) is a metric that attempts to quantify the impact of a player not playing for their team. A higher number equals a higher impact of missing players to the team. TMITT utilizes a player's average time on ice (ATOI), the number of games missed, the number of games played by their team, and the number of games that the player has played in (necessary due to players who aren't on the team's roster or IR at all times i.e. AHL call-ups).

TMITT = (playerGP x ATOI x playerGamesMissed) / teamGP

Sorting things that way, the results are surprising.

Anaheim is now top on their list, with a TMITT score of 1831. Considering the Ducks' position at the top of the Pacific Division, it makes their performance (and the coaching job by coach Bruce Boudreau) that much more impressive.

Second place is a team we haven't mentioned yet - the Detroit Red Wings. Thanks to the injuries to players like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, their TMITT stands at 1731.

The Penguins check into third place with a score of 1623, then the Maple Leafs are in fourth at 1601, mostly due to the loss of Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak.

Fifth place on the TMITT list is actually the Calgary Flames, with a score of 1513, though the Devils are just a hair behind with a score of 1512.

Finally, in seventh place, the Jackets have a TMITT score of 1501. Much like their straight Man Games Lost, that number is likely to rise, but they may also want to take a long hard look around the room.

Every Eastern conference team with a higher TMITT score than Columbus is in playoff position right now.  In straight games lost, the Hurricanes are are still two points up on the Jackets, and the Ducks are top squad in the NHL right now. Of the teams we've mentioned in this article, only the Oilers are in worse position, and....well...they're the Oilers. Nuff said.

The Blue Jackets can legitimately say they've lost significant time and significant players this season, but it's also clear that the rest of the NHL doesn't treat that as an excuse - so neither should they.