Welcome to the NHLPA-mandated bye week!
Two years ago, the NHL player’s union and the league got together to approve the newest All Star Games format, and the players came to the table ready to make some changes of their own.
They walked away from the negotiating table with a league-mandated ‘bye week’, which gives every team five days to essentially do absolutely nothing and enjoy their families. Straight from Pierre LeBrun, who announced the deal two years ago in November 2015:
“The NHL will work in a five-day “bye week” next season as part of the negotiation with the NHL Players’ Association to sign off on the All-Star format changes announced this week, according to sources.
In an important gain for the players, which they got in return for accepting the three-on-three All-Star Game format, the league will build in a five-day bye week for each team into their schedule between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28 next season, sources told ESPN.com.
Players will be completely off with no practice during this break. There will be practice permitted after 4 p.m. local time on the fifth day if there is a game on the sixth day; otherwise no practice will be allowed on the fifth day.”
For the players and their families, it’s a nice little suspension in the madness of the season, hopefully preventing a few injuries and giving every team a nice breather to make up for the atrociously imbalanced portions of the schedule they deal with elsewhere.
For the fans, though, it can kind of blow. With no practice allowed - and no games for five days minimum - there’s not a lot of news to be passed around.
With that, here’s a look at the state of the Avs in general, plus a lot of nonsense on the other teams around the league that aren’t on break:
First, here’s a look at the rookie usage by the Avalanche through the start of the season. How have they been performing - and how has the team been utilizing them in the lineup? [Mile High Hockey]
With the bye week in full swing, two players also got shifted down to the AHL. [MHH]
Now, for the other stuff:
In Arizona, Sunday was the six-year anniversary of the day their captain notched his first career hat trick. A look back at when Shane Doan, already a vet by NHL standards, finally netted three in a game. [Five For Howling]
We’ve also got to give a huge round of applause to Scott Darling for continuing to be the bigger, better, more successful person than any of his Twitter haters out there:
Just remember that you’re a twitter troll and I’m an NHL goaltender pic.twitter.com/2MXQZIoxoT— Scott Darling (@SDarling_33) January 8, 2018
Darling hit the NHL a whopping seven years after he was first drafted by the then-Phoenix Coyotes, battling his way through alcoholism and the SPHL to rise through the ranks of pro hockey and win a Stanley Cup.
His story is one of perseverance and dedication, and he’s got admirers everywhere who respect him for the strength he displays every day. Some, though, just can’t seem to quiet their shaky Twitter fingers, and still harass him when they can.
This particular user seems to have disappeared, which is awesome. One troll down.
Meanwhile, in the comically-tight Metro Division:
With that win, Pens jump from last in Metro into the second wild card with 47 points -- one more than Hurricanes, Flyers and Islanders. (Each of those teams has at least one game in hand on Pittsburgh)— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) January 8, 2018
Not sure how this is even happening, but it’s gonna be a wild second half of the season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning-Detroit Red Wings game also got more than a little wild on Sunday evening.
The two teams have been rivals in recent years, after some absolutely unreal postseason action that left Detroit on the outside looking in. Now, things have started getting pretty heated - and tonight, it really came to a head:
Go ahead and raise your hand if you predicted that Dylan Larkin would get into a fight this year. Or, well, ever.
Also, the Edmonton Oilers are back at the bottom of the league. After a decade-long playoff drought, they finally clawed their way back into the postseason last year - and now they’re free-falling again, despite possessing the best player in the game. What’s going on there? [Edmonton Journal]
Finally: it has been brought to my attention that I don’t seem enthusiastic enough about the Avalanche winning games.
As a token of my undying love for all things Mile High, I shall wear my Calvin Pickard t-shirt every day until my loyalty is believed.
JUST KIDDING. Real talk though, apologies for the lack of energy in my post-games. Fingers crossed that eventually, I’ll stop getting tired an hour before the game ends and have the energy to write you a recap with all the spunk and spitfire you lovely people deserve*