When the NHL season went on hiatus on March 12th, there was league wide disappointment from fans, players, and many others. At this point, it’s not entirely clear as to if the season will be resumed and the Stanley Cup awarded, however, if it is, the long break will have a very large impact on certain teams. Not every team in the NHL will feel an impact from this hiatus, such as the Detroit Red Wings. They were heading for last place and the number 1 lottery odd regardless. A different, yet similar scenario is the case for the St Louis Blues; they were heading for the playoffs either way, but the time off likely won’t have too large of an impact on them. There are, however, 3 teams that stand out in how much their season will be impacted. They are as follows:
3. Columbus Blue Jackets – Positive
First up are the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus received a continuous gut punch of injuries since mid December. Zach Werenski, Ryan Murray, and Joonas Korpisalo all missed extended time throughout the season. After inexplicably managing an 18-2-5 stretch, they suffered through an 8 game losing streak in February. Columbus was soon struggling to keep their head above the water in a extremely tight Metro division race.
By the time of the stoppage, the injuries to regulars in the Columbus lineup consisted of the following:
In back to back games, on February 8th and 10th, Columbus suffered 2 devastating blows. First Seth Jones, then Oliver Bjorkstrand suffered broken ankles in nearly identical ways. Had the season continued as usual, both would’ve missed the remainder of the regular season. Without what were arguably its two most important players, Columbus likely would’ve finished outside a playoff spot. In addition to Jones and Bjorkstrand, Josh Anderson was another key loss. He battled through a prior shoulder injury and eventually re-injured it to the point that his season was in jeopardy. At this point it’s unclear whether he or Alexandre Texier could be back at all, but having a later start to the playoffs will undoubtedly increase the likelihood that either make a return.
2. Philadelphia Flyers – Negative
The Philadelphia Flyers were on an absolute tear leading up to March 12th. They had won 9 of their past 10 games and were riding a huge wave of momentum. The Flyers were out of a playoff spot on February 9th. By the stoppage a month later, they were a single point out of the division lead. Many of the Flyer’s recent wins had been “4 point games” with division rivals whom they were battling for playoff seeding. These included a set of “home and home” wins against both the Blue Jackets and Rangers. The Flyers also earned a road win against the Capitals on March 4th which was particularly significant given their struggles away from home this season.
It is entirely possible that the Flyer’s stretch of great play could’ve ended with their very next game. It cannot, however, be ignored that they were the hottest team in the league at the time of the stoppage.
1. Colorado Avalanche – Positive
Similar to Columbus, the Colorado Avalanche were dealing with a plethora of injuries when the NHL went on Hiatus. The difference between these teams, however, is that Colorado was a true contender and Columbus was fighting just to get into the playoffs.
The Avalanche are a bit more tight lipped with the specifics of their injuries than Columbus, but below are their significant ones at the time of the stoppage:
The losses of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen meant Colorado was without it’s 2 top goal scorers (per game). Grubauer’s extended absence left them without their starting goalie. The others injuries significantly impacted Colorado’s forward depth.
Colorado was in an incredibly tight race with the St. Louis Blues for the Central Division. Though, St. Louis would likely be awarded the division’s top seed if the season resumes, Colorado would get the 2nd seed. This is significant because had the season continued as usual, Colorado may have fallen out of it. Given their bombardment of injuries, it’s even possible they could’ve fallen much further. While, the hiatus may prevent them from taking the division lead, it’s a safe way for Colorado to get past their inure woes. Now, if the league resumes play, the Avalanche will be able to go into the playoffs at close to full strength, if not completely healthy.
While it could be argued that the stoppage provided injury relief for all teams, it certainly was not an equal effect. Throw in hot and cold streaks and the disparity of impact on teams is further increased. Although not every team’s season was altered in the same way, if at all by the hiatus, we can all agree on one thing: The NHL’s resumption cannot come quick enough.
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