Does a lack of size create injuries?

USA TODAY Sports

One of the narratives this season to explain why the Canadiens went out so quickly is that the team's lack of size made them susceptible to injuries. Is it true?

The Montreal Canadiens were relatively injury free during the lockout shortened 48 game 2013 NHL season, yet the suffered an avalanche of injuries to begin the playoffs, which was a big contributor to a disappointing first round loss.

One of the most common narratives coming out of the Canadiens losing in round one after winning the division is that a lack of size lead to more injuries than other teams. Obviously this didn't hold true during the season, but truth never seems to bother people who are intent on feeding their own biases.

I'm not going to ignore the regular season though, and I'm going to split the Canadiens' roster into three categories:

1. Small players, those who are 5'10" or under.
2. Average sized players, those who are 5'11"-6'1".
3. Large players, those who are taller than 6'1".

Doing this, we can see which category of players missed the most games to injury, and the highest percentage of possible games played due to injury including both regular season and the playoffs. This breakdown includes only players who were still on the roster during the playoffs and played at least 10 games.

Small sized players Average sized players Large sized players
Number of Habs 5 12 7
Maximum number of games played 225 502 331
Man-games lost to injury 7 47 57
Percent of max games lost to injury 3.11% 9.36% 17.22%

Well would you look at that, the Habs' big players were more often injured than both the small players and the average sized players. That sure doesn't fit the narrative now, does it?

Right about now you're probably thinking, "But what does this prove?", well it proves jack squat, and that's the entire point. I know, it's a little confusing when I put it that way. Why bother doing this at all if it doesn't prove anything?

It's actually quite simple. There is no correlation between size and injuries. This is a random sample, and a small one. Drawing conclusions from it is stupid. Small players don't suffer disproportionate attrition to larger players. They get where they are largely because they were able to take everything that larger players can throw at them, or they've developed an evasiveness that allows them to hang with the big boys.

Injuries are far more random that many fans would like to admit. Many thought Andrei Markov was one hit away from being retired, then he rattled off an excellent season playing way above his typical level of competition and didn't miss a single shift, let alone a game.

Size has no bearing on durability, even if you're someone who's keyed on every single game. Martin St. Louis has been a star in this league for a decade, and during that time he's missed 7 games of the 786 he could have possibly played. St. Louis is keyed on physically every single game, yet he remains healthy. He's not durable or brittle because of his size, he's just durable.

This line of rationalization for the MOAR BIG movement needs to stop. It's intellectually bankrupt.


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