MONTREAL -- The Habs’ 2011-12 campaign is rapidly starting to resemble an episode of M*A*S*H more than it is a professional hockey team’s season.
One-by-one, players have been checking into the Canadiens clinic for a variety of reasons ranging from the flu, to recovering from knee surgery, to the dreaded upper/lower body injuries. Michael Cammalleri, Chris Campoli, Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn, Andrei Markov, Ryan White, Lars Eller and Scott Gomez represent the Habs skater that have already been shelved at one point or another in the team’s first 18 games of the season.
Before the Canadiens’ Wednesday night tilt against the Hurricanes, 11 members of the team had already missed a combined 76 games. The unfortunate stat ranks the Habs third in the NHL in that category behind only the Columbus Blue Jackets with 89 man games missed and the Winnipeg Jets with 81.
As the initial weeks of the season wore on, the players and training staff alike assured fans that injuries were by no means an excuse for a drop in production or an explanation for losing games. Be that as it may… they sure didn’t help.
The Blue Jackets, playing with the notable absence of Kristian Huselius, currently occupy the bottom rung of the NHL ladder with a record of 3-13-1. The injury bug has also contributed to the Jets’ 28th overall ranking, including a sub-par 6-9-3 record.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Sharks team doctor has barely had to tear open a band-aid or pop the top on a box of tongue depressors in 2011-12, with San Jose players missing only three games thus far. The league average currently stands at 42.34 man games missed.
In times like these, the Canadiens faithful can be thankful for the presence of Brian Gionta who, seemingly as always, has managed to weather the storm of bad luck that’s been battering the bleu-blanc-rouge since the start of the season. The captain is currently riding a streak of 142 consecutive games played, missing only a single game since December 26, 2009.
With any luck, Christmas could arrive early for the Habs this year as All-Star defenseman Andrei Markov continues to quietly approach his return to the lineup after suiting up for only 45 games in 2009-10, and seven in 2010-11.
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com. SEE ALSONotebook: Nov. 16, 2011 Habs call up Frédéric St-Denis Markov sounds off