The Vacation’s Over: Three Bruins That Benefitted the Most from the Olympic Break

The Olympics are now in the past and the Boston Bruins are getting prepared to get back to their regular season grind.  In total, the Bruins sent five players, along with their coach and their general manager, to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Games.  The participants will surely feel the effects of the extra workload, but for a few players, the Olympic Break was a godsend.  How you might ask?  Well let’s take a look.

Jarome Iginla

The Bruins signed the 36 year old right winger in the offseason, less than a month after eliminating his Pittsburgh Penguins from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  The future Hall of Famer got off to a slow start, at least statistically, but he quickly developed chemistry with his new linemates, David Krejci and Milan Lucic.  This trio has given the Bruins an elite top scoring line, consistently generating scoring chances and offensive zone pressure.  Iginla has scored 17 goals through the first 57 games of the season, good enough for third on the team.  His 43 points ranks second on the team, trailing only his linemate David Krejci.

Boston Bruins Olympic Break Jarome Iginla
Jarome Iginla should be well rested after the Olympic Break. {Photoree – S. Yume}

Iginla was not a member of Team Canada this time around, leaving him in Boston for two and a half weeks for the Olympics.  At this stage in his career, Iginla will benefit greatly from this opportunity to rest up before the Bruins make their push towards the playoffs.  If the Bruins are to accomplish their ultimate goal, a Stanley Cup Championship, Iginla will be in line for top line minutes in as many as 28 playoff games.  As one of the team’s top scoring options, he’ll need to come out of this break looking refreshed, ready to help guide the Bruins to the Promised Land.

Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton’s inclusion in this list may seem odd to many, given his young age and lack of NHL experience, but it stands to reason that the rest might do him some good.  Hamilton’s rookie campaign was shortened by NHL Lockout, limiting him to just 49 games played between the regular season and the playoffs.  This season, Hamilton has battled some injuries, but has already played in 42 games.  If the Bruins are to make a lengthy playoff run, Hamilton could play in more than 80 games this year.

Boston Bruins Olympic Break Dougie Hamilton
Will the Olympic Break help Dougie Hamilton avoid the rookie wall? (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Cue the rest.

Hamilton has never played a full 82 NHL season, leaving him vulnerable to the effects of the rookie wall.  As he gears up for the stretch run, a two week and a half week break could provide a huge boost.  A rested and refreshed Dougie Hamilton will go a long way for the Bruins defensive core, a group that’s still trying to find their identity after losing Dennis Seidenberg for the season.  In Seidenberg’s absence, Hamilton will be relied upon to play big minutes at the end of the year, a task that is made a little easier by two weeks of rest.

Loui Eriksson

The Swedish winger came into the season with high expectations, coming to Boston as the immediate replacement for Tyler Seguin.  The first 57 games of the regular season did not go according to plan for Loui Eriksson.  Due to multiple concussions, Eriksson was only able to play in 37 of the Bruins 57 games, registering just six goals and 20 points.  For a player that consistently hits the 25 goal mark, as well as the 70 point plateau, that pace is subpar at best.  Even prior to the injuries, Eriksson struggled to mesh with his new linemates, relegating him to third line duty.  The opportunity to play with some of the most offensively gifted players in the NHL as part of Team Sweden may have been the best thing for Eriksson.

In six Olympic games, Loui Eriksson notched two goals and added a helper.  The hope is that this experience helps to re-establish Loui’s confidence, the first step in jumpstarting his offensive production for the remainder of the regular season.  Eriksson has spent a decent chunk of the season resting and recovering, making more hockey a positive in his case.  If his Olympic performance was a sign of things to come, Eriksson will be an integral part of the deepest forward group in the NHL for the Boston Bruins.

While players like Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask will need some additional rest as a result of the Olympics, some players came out of the break in a better situation.  Which players do you think will benefit the most from the break?  Who did I miss?  Let me know what you think in the comments or on twitter @kirkvance.