Before the 2016-17 season began, it was announced that every NHL team would have a bye week in the middle of the season to help teams rest and recuperate before entering the latter third of the season. The Chicago Blackhawks are currently in their bye week after a six-game road trip that resulted in five wins. There are many pros and cons of the bye week for Chicago, but only time will tell if the week off produces positive or negative results.
Pro: Time to Rest
With the season in condensed time due to the World Cup of Hockey back in September, teams have less time to breathe in between games. Hockey is a rough game and can take a physical toll on those who play frequently. The toll can also go beyond physical to emotional exhaustion. Players rarely play their best when they are exhausted, so sometimes a break is necessary. As Jonathan Toews told Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times, the break can be very beneficial:
‘‘Getting a break helps you physically, whether it’s bumps and bruises or you need to get in the gym and work on some stuff that’s hard to do when you’re playing every other day for a couple of months,’’ he said. ‘‘And sometimes it’s good to get your mind off the game a little bit and come back and be hungry. You play better when you’re really, really excited to be at the rink.’’
Con: Possibly Losing Momentum
The Blackhawks are currently on fire after winning five games in a row during a six-game road trip. The most significant wins were against Minnesota on Feb. 8 and Winnipeg on Feb. 10. Both teams had a winning streak against Chicago prior to their last meetings, making them both significant wins for the Blackhawks. The most recent game against Minnesota was considered the “biggest game of the year”. Although the Blackhawks do not seem to be worried about losing momentum during their week off, it is a valid concern among fans.
Pro: Fixing What is Wrong
Although the Blackhawks have been doing well as of late, it hasn’t been that way all season. Some of the problems from earlier in the season still persist, such as weak penalty kills. New problems have appeared in the past few months, such as giving up solid leads in the third period.
Overall, though, the problems have diminished, but there is always room for improvement. Time off can help improve a team’s weaknesses, even if there are few practices during the break. Sometimes time off to reflect on how to improve can greatly improve performance, and this is the perfect time for the Blackhawks to do that.
Con: Possibly Losing Points
Although the Blackhawks have a solid spot in second in the Central Division in the current NHL standings, a spot in the playoffs isn’t guaranteed until the spot is clinched. Due to winning the past five games, gaining points doesn’t seem to be much of an issue as of late. The concern with the week off is that the other teams in the Central Division will be gaining more points in the standings while the Blackhawks sit idle. With the Blackhawks recent dominance, it isn’t the biggest worry for the team, but it’s still out there.