With their current two-day break the Golden Knights are using this valuable time off to rest their bodies from the heavy wear and tear they’ve successfully played through this season. The Golden Knights just finished up playing 31 in 56 days. That’s an average of 1.8 days between contests.
Even the best athletes in the world need rest and recovery. There’s not a lot of time for that when you’re playing pretty much every other day. The biggest fear that I have is that you’re going to get a lot of overuse injuries. You’re more worried about people pulling muscles, having injuries that we normally wouldn’t see as common in hockey because they usually do get breaks built into the schedule. -Dr. Brian Schultz, Anaheim Ducks team doctor
Coaches and more importantly team doctors are concerned with potential injuries as we head down the stretch. Anaheim’s team physician publicly gave his medical opinion about the stress a crammed schedule will have on NHL players.
We checked in with our medical expert, Vegas Sports Doc, Dr. Caleb Pinegar. Is Dr. Pinegar as concerned as NHL coaches and team doctors about a demanding schedule like the Golden Knights are facing this season?
Almost every sport has required or recommended breaks. The pitcher doesn’t throw consecutive days, football players get 5 to 7 days between games. They even talk about having a Sunday game followed by a Thursday game and the short break being concerning about being ready for the next game. -Dr. Caleb Pinegar, Crovetti Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine
Rest to work ratio is an important component to keeping professional athletes healthy and in ideal playing shape. With a shortened season the schedule doesn’t allow the proper resting period for any team. It’s tough to expect the Golden Knights to bring a consistent level of energy every game. And yet they’ve won nine in a row.
The typical recovery period for Vegas and other clubs is just not possible in 2021. With a jam-packed season, physicians are worried players are skating with injuries that normally can be resolved with a normal amount of time in between games.
There are a lot of injuries and strains that go unreported because the guys have enough time between games to keep them under control. We don’t get to see what they’re doing in the training room in between games but that’s the critical part of their preparation during the season. There is a constant rehabilitation and prevention process as they keep their bodies healthy enough to continue competition. But when you get too many games in a row with not enough rest those injuries surface enough to prevent them from competing. Or can be the lead-up to a new and worst injury. -Dr. Pinegar
We’ve seen players in and out of the lineup this year more so than a typical 82-game NHL schedule. It’s possible the Golden Knights are finding spots to rest some of their players. However, coach Pete DeBoer doesn’t seem to be concerned with managing rest. His aggressive approach to winning the division is seemingly more important for the club’s future.
It’s tough to argue with a head coach in the first place.
I’m not a big believer in managing anything other than trying to win to give yourself the easiest path possible come playoff time. Obviously home-ice advantage against the lowest seed as you move through, it doesn’t always mean success but we want to pursue that as hard as we can. I think we’ll manage energy by not practicing, by giving them as much time off between games as we can in this condensed schedule, by making sure our travel is well planned and well thought out. -Pete DeBoer
DeBoer’s job is to win games and put his team in the best position to advance throughout the playoffs. Medical experts respect a coach’s drive but also want to optimize a player’s ability by keeping them healthy and fresh.
Dr. Pinegar has concerns about a player’s production if they’re not getting proper rest.
It’s not just about preparation for the upcoming opponent, it’s a lot about rest. The impact, the strain, the sprinting, the stopping, cutting all takes a toll on your body. And if you go hard too many days in a row you’ll get hurt. A tight schedule with back to back to back games and very Little recovery adds up in a negative way on the body. -Dr. Pinegar
Team physicians fear soft tissue injuries. Not the acute type like contusions or lacerations that can occur in any NHL season but overuse injuries. Dr. Pinegar worries more cases of tendinitis and bursitis will pop up more without proper rest. When injuries linger they can become worse or create other injuries if the player doesn’t have enough recovery time.
Thankfully, the Golden Knights were handed three days off with nine games to go. from ending their 56-game grind. Depending on Colorado’s performance down the stretch, Vegas may be able to rest players quietly nursing injuries even more. Only a few days off from the 56-game grind can possibly make the difference in the postseason.
**Stick tap to Dr. Caleb Pinegar for dropping some medical knowledge on this story. Dr. Pinegar is a physician with Crovetti Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine located in Henderson, NV. Read more about him and the practice here.**