Just seven games into the season COVID has struck the Vegas Golden Knights. A few positive tests to coaches and players have forced the NHL to postpone three games, two against San Jose and one with St. Louis. The rescheduling of the games inside of the normal framework of the reason has made an already tight schedule even tighter.
The Golden Knights saw one more back-to-back added to their schedule, bringing their total up to nine on the season (three with travel). What was previously an overblown storyline of “so many more back-to-backs” is now suddenly a real one. The eight Vegas originally had scheduled over 56 games was good for one every seven games. In a normal NHL season that number is usually around one in every 6.5. Now, with nine in 49 games, Vegas is set to face a back-to-back once every 5.4 games.
That pales in comparison to the total volume of the games in the amount of time the NHL is squeezing them into though. With the Golden Knights sitting idle for nine days over the last week, they are now scheduled to play 49 games in the next 93 days. That gives them on average less than 48 hours between games for the next three months!
To be exact, assuming the schedule goes on as planned, Vegas will play a game once every 45.6 hours. Compare that to last year where they played 71 games in 159 days or 53.7 hours. Or the years before when they played 82 games over 184 and 183 days or about one every 53.8 hours.
To match the numbers from each of the previous three seasons, Vegas should be playing 49 games in 110 days, not 93. Even if you take out the bye weeks from those, as Vegas sort of just had one, it still should be 49 games in about 102, nine days more than scheduled.
I’ve always found it incredible how NHL players seem to be able to spin any seemingly negative situation into a positive, and captain Mark Stone was able to do just that with this one.
It’s challenging but the way I look at it is, on the road I’d rather be playing games. I don’t really want to be sitting in my hotel room with nothing to do. I don’t mind it. We’re going to condense a lot of road games together, we’re going to be playing a lot of hockey, keep our mind away from a lot of things. It’s going to be tougher obviously physically, but mentally it’s going to help us. -Stone
The number of road days doesn’t change much, but there are many more breaks in the series format with the new reschedulings.
It will certainly be easier to move from game to game mentally as the games happen so frequently, but the physical side is definitely a concern, especially if there are injuries.
It’s just part of the year that is 2021. On the bright side, whatever it looks like now, it very well may look differently in a week.