Now that we’re about 25 percent of the way through the NHL season, we’re starting to get to that point in the year where injuries are playing a key role in handicapping puck bets.
Here’s a look at a few injuries bettors should be aware of and why. (Statistics are as of before Friday, Feb. 15 games).
Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames goaltender – Knee sprain, hopeful return late February
The injury to the Flames’ workhorse netminder, who has played at least 70 games every year since the 2005-06 season, is huge. It thrusts 24-year-old Leland Irving into the starting role, who had just seven games of NHL experience coming into the season. He has an .895 save percentage with a 2.93 goals against average in five games. The Flames may need to start scoring to win, like they did Wednesday night (7-4 over Dallas).
Johan Franzen, Red Wings right wing – hip flexor, day-to-day but out Friday vs. Anaheim
They don’t call this guy "The Mule" for nothing and his recent injury is especially tough on Detroit, which is now down three right wingers (Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson). He doesn’t always end up on the scoreboard, but Franzen is a huge presence on Detroit’s power play and in the corners. It's no shock the Red Wings had a three-game winning streak snapped without him against St. Louis Wednesday.
Brooks Laich, Washington Capitals center – groin, hopes to return late February
Laich hasn’t played yet this season, but his absence is one quiet reason why the Caps are in the basement in the Southeast. He’s a physical, consistent two-way center who can also score 20 goals and it’s often his line’s shifts that change momentum when Washington plays flat – which it tends to do. With Alex Semin gone to Carolina, Laich's return won’t be too soon.
Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues goaltender – groin, out indefinitely
The Blues are the kind of team that likes to win 2-1. Since Halak got hurt six games ago, they’ve given up at least three goals in every contest and a total of 28 (4.67 goals per game). They gone 7-0-2 over/under in their last nine games overall.
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators defenseman – Achilles, out for season
Obviously, it’s huge when you lose the reigning Norris Trophy winner, who had 10 points in 13 games for Ottawa. But this could be one of those injuries that oddsmakers and bettors tend to overvalue. A hot goalie can compensate for a lot and Craig Anderson could be the best in the league right now. The Sens are an under team this year with a 4-10 over/under record. When some of their injured forwards start returning, there could be some value here.