In my column for SB Nation this week, I compared games played by defensemen during the five years prior to the Trapezoid Rule and the five years since the rule was introduced. I hoped that using the games played each season would act as a proxy for games lost to injury and shed some light on whether or not the the blueliners in the NHL were suffering because of the new rule. The numbers show that there hasn't been a marked effect on games played or defensemen used and that David Poile is right -- the rule hasn't had the impact on defensemen that some claim it has.
For curiosity's sake, and because of Edmonton's well-documented injury problems last season, I decided to run the same numbers over the same time period, limiting the results to only Edmonton defensemen. Given that the Oilers have had injury issues seemingly every year since the lockout, the games played information should show a team reeling from a run of bad luck.
However, the games played numbers don't show that at all. Defensive games played have been higher since the rule change. During the 1999-2003 period, the Oilers used 50 defensemen -- over the last five seasons, they've used 60. You can view the seasons by games played below:
|Def. Games||0-9||10-19||20-29||30-39||40-49||50-59||60-69||70-79||> 79|
I don't recall any specific hit that an Oiler has taken while chasing down a puck that the goalie would have normally played (though I'm sure the vault in Bruce's brain will be along very quickly if I'm wrong), so there doesn't seem to be any anecdotal evidence that the Trapezoid Rule has harmed the Oilers. The Oilers have, however, had two defensemen take dirty hits (Tomas Plekanec on Denis Grebeshkov and Jarome Iginla on Sheldon Souray) behind the net.
Even though the rule shouldn't have any effect on forwards, I decided to look at the forwards data. The forwards have taken a bit more of a beating compared to the defensemen - 97 forwards were used in the period prior to the rule's implementation and 107 have been used since. 49 forwards have played more than 60 games since 2005, while 53 played more than 60 games in the 1999-2003 period.
|Fwd Games||0-9||10-19||20-29||30-39||40-49||50-59||60-69||70-79||> 79|
While last season was brutal as far as luck goes, thinking that all of Edmonton's recent history has been full of similar luck doesn't seem to hold water.