Since January 27th, the Golden Knights have had 16 days off and suited up for only six periods of game action. It may not seem like much, but it allows for the reigning champions to heal, prepare, and most importantly rest up for their final 30 regular season games and their perennial deep postseason run.
The Golden Knights have played 156 games since October 11th, 2022, so any extra days off should be taken advantage of.
We haven’t (rested players) other than maybe late in the year. Would I do it in the middle of January? Probably not. First of all, players don’t want to come out of the lineup even when they’re hurt, so there’s dealing with that part of it. -Bruce Cassidy, September 2023
It goes without saying, playing an extended amount of hockey is what every fan and player dreams of when a new season begins. However, a deep run can interrupt a reigning champion’s repeat attempt.
When the Avalanche were eliminated in seven games to the Seattle Kraken last year, it was their 191st game played since October of 2021. Their short summer full of celebrating in ’22 was anything but that ten months later. With the spacing out of VGK’s final 30 contests, it’s possible rest can keep them off the golf course until mid-June.
- 1930-1931 Montreal
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Last summer was the second time Vegas’ offseason was cut short, and it didn’t benefit them the following year. Coming off their five-game loss to Washington in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, the Golden Knights had high expectations in 2018-19. Unfortunately, they were unfairly ousted in the first round. Just like last season’s Avalanche team. In 2019, then Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy decided to rest players down the stretch of the regular season. It would only make sense for him to implement that same strategy with his current team’s lineup. Especially, after playing almost 190 games by the opening round.
🎥 Bruce Cassidy on the lineup for tomorrow vs. Minnesota: "We are gonna rest some guys. The final decision will be made in the morning. I can tell you Wagner’s out. He’s been dealing with a lower-body, so he needs a few days off completely." pic.twitter.com/4qqGMS2skK
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 3, 2019
Back in September, Cassidy hinted at not resting Mark Stone throughout the season. The captain has proven to be as healthy as he’s been in two seasons. On Monday, he’ll be playing in his 75th straight game. Clearly, the ample amount of healing time from back surgery last January has kept Stone on the ice and as effective as ever. Don’t look now but the Golden Knights leader is on pace for the most points of his career. It’s possible injury management and rest in the winter of 2023 will continue to pay off in 2024.
Another benefit to the Golden Knights’ remaining 30-game schedule is their limited number of back-to-backs. Vegas will only have to face two back-to-back situations in the second half. Later this month, VGK will take on the Sharks in San Jose and travel right back home for a game the following day with the Nashville Predators. More than a month later, the reigning champions will play in St. Louis against the Blues and turn around and battle the Predators 24 hours thereafter.
By then, the Golden Knights should be fresh, in a premium playoff position, and beginning to prepare for their title defense.