Every time the Blackhawks have a long break between games, they come out flat and lose badly in the next. Isn’t that the opposite of what you’d expect? If a team has more rest, they should be expected to play better, in theory.
I decided to look into how rest effects player performance and consider how the Blackhawks performed on the second night of a back to back, after one day’s rest, after two days of rest, and after three or more days of rest. Here’s what I found.
Zero Days of Rest
The Blackhawks have played 11 games this season with no days of rest, posting a 3-7-1 record. But did the whole team play as bad as the record suggests?
Anton Forsberg started games two days in a row, three separate times, posting a 0-2-1 record. Corey Crawford did this twice, posting a 1-1 record. Jeff Glass did this once and he lost. Put that together, that’s a 1-4-1 record. Not too great.
It’s important to note that in most of these games, other than in Jeff Glass’ single start, the goaltenders didn’t play horribly. While Glass finished with a 4.33 GAA, Crawford finished with a 2.07 GAA, and Forsberg finished with a 1.78 GAA.
Crawford had a save percentage of 0.930, and Forsberg had a save percentage of 0.935. From the looks of it, Forsberg and Crawford gave their teammates everything they had and the team just couldn’t pull off any wins.
Forwards and Defensemen
The one Blackhawks player who consistently stood out in games coming off no rest is Alex DeBrincat. In 11 such games this season, DeBrincat is leading the team with 12 points. He even posted a hat trick in his hometown of Detroit against the Red Wings. The players closest to DeBrincat in points in this situation are Schmaltz (seven) and Kane (five).
Speaking of Kane, he and Saad are tied with a team-low minus-6 in these games while Duncan Keith, who hasn’t exactly had a great season, is right behind them with a minus-5.
*The Blackhawks scored six power-play goals in this 11 game stretch.
*Jordan Oesterle ousted Keith for the team lead in average ice time during this stretch by one minute.
*Brent Seabrook leads the team with 14 penalty minutes in these games. Noted goon, Kane, is second on the team with eight penalty minutes.
One Day of Rest
The Blackhawks have played 29 games this season after one day of rest, posting a 13-10-6 record. Here’s how the team played:
Crawford played after one day of rest eight separate times this season and posted a 6-2 record. His 2.05 GAA was good for a .936 save percentage and was far better than that of both Forsberg and Glass.
Glass played six games in this situation, posting a 1-3-2 record. His GAA was 3.32, and save percentage was .886. Forsberg’s numbers are a little bit better: he posted a 2-1 record in three games, his GAA was 2.37 and his save percentage was .897.
Forwards and Defensemen
Kane was almost a point per game player with one day of rest, potting eight goals and 19 assists in 29 games. Jonathan Toews was right behind him with 25 points.
Just like with zero days of rest, Kane has a team-low minus-10 after one day of rest. Saad actually jumped to the team lead in this category with plus-8. Seabrook, who was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career this season, has totaled 10 of his 18 total points this season coming off of one day of rest.
*The Blackhawks have scored 19 power-play goals in these 29 games. Artem Anisimov has four and Nick Schmaltz along with DeBrincat have three.
*DeBrincat played in all 29 games and only received four penalty minutes.
*The Blackhawks have one shorthanded goal in this stretch, courtesy of Tommy Wingels.
Two Days of Rest
The Blackhawks have played 10 games this season after two days of rest, posting a 7-3 record. Keep in mind, alternating goalie starts or scratching players will alter the amount of games players have played with two days of rest.
Crawford has played 11 games with two days of rest, posting a 7-3-1 record. His numbers are still close to elite with a 2.36 GAA and a .928 save percentage. Glass played two games with two days of rest, posting a 1-1 record. His GAA is 2.03 and his save percentage is .915.
Forsberg played two games during this stretch and lost both. His GAA is 4.99 and his save percentage is .857. Note to the Blackhawks coaching staff, do NOT play Forsberg when he is coming off of two days rest.
Forwards and Defensemen
Kane and Toews have excelled in the 10 games they have played after two days of rest, with 10 points each. The dynamic duo each has six penalty minutes in these games, tied for second on the team in that stretch. Nick Schmaltz, in a breakout year, has tallied nine points in the 10 games but, oddly enough, has only one goal. He’s averaging 18:28 in TOI, which ranks third among forwards behind Toews and Kane.
Only three players have a negative +/- ranking in this stretch: John Hayden, Anthony Duclair, and Duncan Keith. Duclair has only played two games off of two days rest with the Blackhawks and is a minus-2.
*In these 10 games, the Blackhawks have scored five power-play goals thanks to Anisimov, DeBrincat, and Gustav Forsling. Anisimov has three of them.
*Anisimov has a 35.3% shooting percentage in these games, more than double the second highest, which is 17.6% for DeBrincat.
Three or More Days of Rest
The Blackhawks have played eight games this season after three or more days of rest, posting a 2-5-1 record. Again, keep in mind, lineup changes will alter the amount of games players have played after three or more days of rest. But did the whole team play as bad as the record suggests?
Crawford played six games in this situation, posting a 2-3-1 record. His GAA was 2.64 and save percentage was .914. Not great, but not horrible either. Forsberg played in 14 of these games, starting 12 of them. He posted a 4-6-2 record with a 3.03 GAA and a 912 save percentage. Glass played in four games and started three of them posting a 1-1-1 record. He has a 3.10 GAA and a .901 save percentage and was recently placed on waivers.
Forwards and Defensemen
Yet again, Kane leads the way, with nine points in eight games. Surprisingly enough, Cody Franson is next on the list, with five points in seven games. Tommy Wingels has played in 11 games coming off of three or more days rest and has zero points in those games.
As far as +/- goes, most of the team is either at zero or in the negatives. The only players with a positive stat are Duclair (plus-2), Michal Kempny (plus-2), Tomas Jurco (plus-1), and Jordan Oesterle (plus-1). Kempny was traded to the Washington Capitals on Feb 19.
*The Blackhawks have five power-play goals in these games from five different players.
*In eight games in this situation, Brandon Saad has taken 27 shots but scored zero goals.
*Ryan Hartman is leading the team in penalty minutes in this situation with 21.
Zero days of rest: 3-7-1 record
One day of rest: 13-10-6 record
Two days of rest: 7-3 record
Three or more days of rest: 2-5-1 record
Rest does, in fact, impact the Blackhawks’ fate. They play their best when coming off of two days of rest, and play simply atrocious when getting zero days of rest, or three or more days of rest.
Based strictly on the numbers, this is your starting goalie in the following situations:
Zero days of rest: Corey Crawford (1-1, 2.07 GAA, 0.930 SV%)
One day of rest: Corey Crawford (6-2, 2.05 GAA, .936 SV%)
Two days of rest: Corey Crawford (7-3-1, 2.36 GAA, .928 SV%)
Three or more days of rest: Corey Crawford (2-3-1, 2.64 GAA, .914 SV%)
What are your thoughts on this, Blackhawks fans? What surprises you? What doesn’t?
I am an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying Community Health: Health Planning and Administration. I previously have covered the NHL at FanSided & BlackhawkUp.