The Pittsburgh Penguins‘ 2013-14 season has been a memorable one. They won their division, locked up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and have the soon-to-be league MVP on their roster in Sidney Crosby.
However, not all from this season has been memorable. The Penguins lead the NHL in man games lost, and the fact that this team has been as consistent and good as they have been this year with the injuries that they’ve faced is astounding.
These man games lost haven’t been to third and fourth line players but huge pieces to the overall puzzle. Players who missed significant time include: Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin, Beau Bennett, James Neal, Rob Scuderi, Kris Letang and Tomas Vokoun just to name a few. That’s quite a laundry list of injuries.
With all those injuries, it was amazing to read fans’ angst towards head coach Dan Bylsma for resting his players the other night in a game against the Colorado Avalanche. Some declared that the only thing Crosby hasn’t done is played a full 82-game season in his career. Others stated how the team was playing poorly and needed to garner momentum before the playoffs. Others just seem to downright hate any decision that Bylsma makes.
However you look at it, this is the right decision for the team. This team has three games remaining before the playoffs begin, and I would suggest Bylsma give players another day off on Wednesday when the Penguins host the Detroit Red Wings.
Resting key players like Crosby, Chris Kunitz and James Neal will only benefit this team down the stretch. If you think back to recent postseason failures, fatigue certainly looks like it was part of the problem for the reeling Penguins. Resting key players will only help, not hurt the team heading into the postseason.
After Wednesday’s game against the Red Wings, the Penguins should start to get their lineup tuned up for the postseason as they have back-to-back home games against the Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators.
Giving players rest will benefit this team, but then again that is one of those decisions that only a head coach really can make as he has his finger on the pulse of his team. Resting Crosby and company one more game will only have them fresh and rejuvenated for the playoffs.
For a team that has so many man games lost, even a little bit of health never hurt.