Injuries are part of the game and it’s a cliché to say that one should not use them as an excuse to justify sub-par performances and that, whether it’s for a player specifically or for an entire team. But while few people want to hear clichés, it doesn’t change the fact that they are clichés for a reason. As as matter of fact, American author Diana Gabaldon was once quoted saying: “The most irritating thing about clichés, I decided, was how frequently they were true.”
No one knows the impact of a key injury more than the Montreal Canadiens and their fans as they have gone through not one, but two examples of its devastating impact in just a few short years. First, it was Carey Price who, coming out of a MVP season where he racked up all of the hardware possible, only appeared in 12 games in 2015-2016 before being shut down for the season. We know the rest. The Canadiens finished 28th overall and got to select third in the following NHL Draft.
Just last year, the Habs suffered another huge blow when stud defenseman Shea Weber injured himself in the very first game of the season, breaking his foot. True competitor, it was impossible to shut him down until he did more damage by continuing to play injured until he was forced to call it a season after only 26 games. Once again, the Canadiens finished 28th overall without their number one defenseman.
Weber’s impact on Price
Both Weber and Price are two of the undisputed leaders of the Montreal Canadiens. Both born in British Columbia, they have been friends on and off the ice for several years prior to Weber joining the Habs, as both make the Okanagan Valley their summer home, in Kelowna, BC and playing together for Team Canada internationally. When it’s time to hit the ice in August, they do so together alongside other NHLers, most times by renting the ice at Prospera Place in Kelowna, I’m told.
Just watching the games, it was apparent that the Canadiens’ defense was suffering without their stud defenseman and no one suffered more of his absence than his good friend Price. But how much did Weber’s injury affect the Canadiens’ netminder? I’ve compiled some numbers to see if the eye test matched the statistics and here’s what I found.
Weber started the 2017-2018 season against the Buffalo Sabres and we were told later on that season that he had broken his foot in that game. He managed to play another 25 games on one leg that season and here are Price’s numbers with the one nicknamed Man Mountain in the lineup, even on one leg:
Those number are not earth shattering by any means, as you can attest. But let’s now have a look at the goaltender’s numbers without Weber in the lineup, after he was shut down:
As we all know, Weber didn’t start the 2018-2019 season with his teammates, still rehabilitating from his surgeries and while the Canadiens did pretty well to start this season without their newly named captain, they did it somewhat in spite of Price’s worrisome performances. Here are Price’s numbers prior to Weber returning to the lineup this season:
Finally, the much anticipated return of Weber happened on November 27th against the Carolina Hurricanes. With the elite defenseman back in the lineup, Price’s numbers skyrocketed and the goaltender returned to his old form. Some will say that it’s all on Price but everyone else knows that Weber’s return played a huge role, as with the captain in the lineup this season, the goaltender posted elite numbers once again:
In total for the past two seasons, here are Price’s numbers…
Without Weber in the lineup:
With Weber in the lineup:
To put things into perspective, let’s now look at where Price ranks amongst his peers, shall we? Amongst goaltenders appearing in a minimum 35 games this season, Price is:
- 2nd in most games played
- 5th in most wins
- 3rd in most shots against
- 3rd in most saves
- 9th in best saves percentage
- 10th in best goals against average
- 9th in most shutouts
Now where would he be had Weber started the season with the team? Probably in the running for another Vezina Trophy. Yes, that’s the impact a Shea Weber has on a team and on a goaltender folks. The eye test showed it and the numbers are also backing it up. Go Habs Go!