When the NHL announced that it was going ahead with a condensed 56-game season, players, coaches and general managers knew that it would be tough. GMs are dealing with a flap cap, possibly for a few years, and have players to sign. Coaches and players didn’t have a proper training camp with exhibitions to implement systems and get in game shape. A division realignment made for close geographical rivalries while facing the same teams eight to ten times each guarantees some bad blood. As every game is a four-point game, it carries the intensity up over a long period. Then put all of that into a shorten season, playing almost every second day and you can see how fatigue, physical and mental, has and will set in.
Playing so many games in such a short time, and with a high level of rivalry and intensity is one thing at the junior level. But in junior, we’re talking about teenagers and a few 20-year olds with all the energy in the world. The level of play, or quality of opposition is far from what it is in the NHL. And the age of the players is also quite different. When you get to a certain point in your life, particularly years of high level of hockey, you start feeling it. What used to take a few hours to recuperate from now takes a few days. As the older you get, the worse it gets.
Rest is key
That’s where pro-active coaching will pay dividends. Younger teams will recuperate quicker. Younger players will. But old veterans, often counted onto more, will start feeling fatigue quicker and more often. Allowing them the proper rest, perhaps manage their minutes more closely than ever before, could be the difference.
Back in the days, I remember when the Canadiens’ coaching staff was giving days off to veterans like Guy Carbonneau and Larry Robinson, amongst others. I recall the organisation sending them to Florida to rest on the beach for a few days, while their teammates kept practicing.
The Habs don’t have to go to that extend, but they definitely should give guys like Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Carey Price, Brendan Gallagher, Corey Perry and company days off practice. I’d say at least a day or two more a week than for their younger counterparts. It would also pay off to get the younger ones a day off practice here and there. Further, if the cap allows, use the taxi squad a bit more. Michael Frolik has yet to see the ice. By not using him, he’ll be completely rusty if or when the team needs him.
Bergevin talking to Nashville?
We just talked about the Canadiens’ need for a defenseman like Mattias Ekholm on the top pairing. It looks like Marc Bergevin thinks the same way and his interest in the Predators’ defenseman dates from well before the injury to Ben Chiarot, according to The Fourth Period. According to the same source, Montreal has also inquired about the availability of Fillip Forsberg. We know that David Poile and Bergevin aren’t afraid to pull the trigger on big trades and they have completed on a few years ago that brought a lot of emotions in Montreal.
Of course, there are more defensemen available than Ekholm and it is very possible that Bergevin pulls one out of left field, as he’s done numerous times. Either way, a top-4 left-handed defenseman, a puck mover, is the team’s biggest need. Followed by a veteran center good on faceoffs. With Carey Price back on track (4-1-1, .950 Sv% and 1.50 GAA in March), it would go a long way to helping the Habs make the playoffs and who knows? Maybe make a push in the playoffs. Watch Bergevin as historically, he likes to pull the trigger well before trade deadline. This year’s due date is on April 12th. Go Habs Go!