The Olympic break was both good and bad for NHL players. It gave those that weren't going to Sochi two weeks to rest and recover from whatever injuries were ailing them. It allowed NHL players who made the trip to Russia to live out a childhood dream of wearing their country's coat of arms and try to win gold. The downside to these two weeks off?
March's schedule is going to be brutal.
We're talking NHL lockout schedule brutal.
The Bruins will be playing 17 games in 31 days. 12 of these games are back to back games (so 6 back to backs). Of those 6 back to backs, 3 of them are of the home/road or road/home variety. So let's continue to break down this schedule:
Number of teams playing in March: 12 unique teams
Number of teams playing more than once: 4 (Washington (3x), Montreal (2x), Florida (2x), Phoenix (2x))
Number of playoff teams playing in March (as of 2/26): 7 (Rangers, Lightning, Canadiens, Wild, Avalanche, Blackhawks, Flyers) [Phoenix tied with Dallas for last spot in the West]
Winning percentage of teams playing in March: 50.5%
Number of miles traveled by Boston in March: 9,204 miles (per google maps)
March's back to back:
Washington (home)/New York Rangers (road)
Tampa Bay (road)/Florida (road)
Montreal (road)/Phoenix (home)
Minnesota (home)/New Jersey (road)
Colorado (road)/Phoenix (road)
Washington (road)/Philadelphia (road)
Here's what I would expect:
- See a lot of Chad Johnson. Tuukka Rask has already played 43 games this season, closing in on his season high of 45 games played in 2009-2010. With the large amount of back to backs, Johnson (and maybe even Svedberg at times) will be leaned on as Boston heads to down their stretch run. There was no hiding the fact from Bruins management that being in the playoff hunt by American Thanksgiving was what they wanted so they may have used Rask more than one would like. With that said, Johnson has been a solid backup for the Bruins.
- A potential dip in wins. Last March the Bruins played 17 games in 31 days. Their record? 9-6-2. By any team standards, that's not bad but when you match it up with January and February's records (5-1-1 and 8-1-1) it looked worse than it actually was. There's a chance that happens this March as well. Boston finished out the rest of the 2012-2013 campaign with a limp towards the playoffs (6-6-2 in April) before a miracle occured against Toronto and the rest of history. If there is a lull in March I wouldn't worry or hit the panic button. There's a small history of this happening with this club.
- No trades. Trade deadline is March 5th. This I have no idea about. I don't have "sources" or anything, but listening to Chiarelli and Bruins management talk about the trade deadline and seeing various reports out there, there's not much in terms of what the Bruins need. I would love for them to get a veteran defenseman who can kill penalties *cough RON HAINSEY cough* [also is a UFA at the end of this season] but I don't know if that's going to happen. We shall see.