In the game of hockey, momentum is such a huge factor. When a team has it, all they want to do is keep playing and not stop. When a team is firing on all cylinders, every shot seems to go into the goal and the puck looks like a beach ball to the goaltender.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been on a roll over the past month. The Penguins are playing tight-scoring games and winning as well as high-scoring games and coming out on top. The Penguins have ran into a bit of a road block. This is not due to any team in the NHL, but by the NHL itself!
For some reason, the schedule-makers at the NHL felt that the Penguins could use a long break. The Penguins played the Washington Capitals last week on Wednesday. They did not play the two days before this game and did not begin play again until Monday when they took on the Florida Panthers.
As I said before, the Penguins came into this game on fire, especially on home ice. The long break has put many of the injured Penguins back on the ice, but the Penguins looked very rusty in their game against the Panthers.
This is a very familiar situation to the Penguins. Last season heading into the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins, the Penguins quickly defeated the Ottawa Senators and had to wait a very long time for the Western Conference to finish their series. This caused the Penguins to come out flat and lose to the Bruins.
The Penguins had the same thing happen to them against the Panthers, coming out flat. This may be a red flag for the Penguins going into the Winter Olympic break: Will the Penguins struggle after their long Olympic break?
History tells us it is a very good possibility. In 2010, after winning a Stanley Cup the previous season, the Penguins looked tired in the playoffs and lost to the Montreal Canadians, a team they should have defeated.
The long Olympic break will make many of the Penguins ready to go for the quick sprint that the rest of the season will entail. It will also cause some of their stars like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin to be exhausted. Will this year be different? Only time will tell.
This year’s 2014 Winter Olympics may be fun for many fans to watch their favorite players play for their home countries, but this long break (or non-stop play) may cause many of the teams like the Penguins to struggle after the break. Again, only time will tell.