It’s not a secret that the Stars have had their injury issues this year. This tweet, however, really brings home quite how severe the injury issue is:
Plot of Lost WAR to injuries against points per game through 3 April pic.twitter.com/Ym6hhfcQ6p
— NHLInjuryViz (@NHLInjuryViz) April 4, 2021
The axis on the chart had to be extended. The chart shows lost wins above replacement (WAR) per injured player against points per games played for those, not of an analytical bent. Wins above replacement is a metric, first used in baseball, that describes the number of additional wins the player’s team has achieved above the number of expected team wins if that player were substituted with a replacement-level player (a player of minimal worth). So essentially, more than any team in the league, the Stars’ high-value players, at least when it comes to winning games are injured. With the relentless schedule, the Stars probably don’t see the situation improving much.
The Stars could use the above statistics, combined with the relentless schedule, to throw up their hands and give up on the season. Suffering from the after-effects of Covid, their key players injured, the situation made even worse by a historic ice storm it would be easy to accept that they have every reason not to make the playoffs. We can look a bit more closely at the chart above though and something else jumps out. The next most injured team, in terms of high-value players, is the Colorado Avalanche. The Stars defeated in the 2nd round last year are also missing some key players, yet, as the season has rolled along, they have become ever more of a juggernaut, currently sitting top of the league with a 26-8-4 record. Stars fans should be grateful perhaps, that the Avs are in the Western Conference.
So the Stars’ injuries are a reason for their offensive difficulties this season, but not an excuse. The next two games are against the Chicago Blackhawks, who the Stars trail by 3 points in the standings, but over whom they also have 3 games in hand. It’s not hyperbole to say that the next week could bring the most crucial games of the truncated season, and the time for the Stars to make excuses is over.