While the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be doing battle for a Gold Medal in Sochi, James Neal will be relaxing on a beach somewhere and Brandon Sutter will be ice fishing. Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma—who will be coaching Team USA in the Winter Games—has instructed the members of his team that aren’t heading to Russia to take a break.
This, according to Chris Adamski of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
It’s a rare opportunity for a Stanley Cup contender to be able to rest their players with only a few months remaining in the regular season. The Penguins have played in 56 contests so far this year, and have been missing a variety of players during different stretches of time.
While they won’t get Pascal Dupuis back after the break, they could get a boost from a healthy and rested Kris Letang, a fully recovered Beau Bennett and a re-energized Marc-Andre Fleury. The netminder is fifth in the NHL in games played, with a whopping 45 under his belt already.
Burnout has to be a concern for coaches, especially coaches that are leading Cup contenders, so Sochi could actually be a big help to teams like Pittsburgh. Crosby, Malkin and the rest of the Penguins that are heading to the Winter Games won’t have a chance to unwind at all, but getting top-six guys like Neal some rest could be a boon for the squad moving forward.