A look at other team’s records after bye week shows the Carolina Hurricanes could be in trouble
Carolina’s last game was against the Dallas Stars last Saturday. The next game the Carolina Hurricanes play is this coming Friday. So why the long span between games? The breaks this year stem from the NHL implementing so-called bye weeks to give players more time off. A lot of people are stating the bye weeks are due to the condensed schedule. Actually, though, the bye weeks were negotiated by the NHLPA for signing off on the changes the NHL wanted to make to the All-Star Game.
But more rest is good, right? The Hurricanes came back recharged and won three straight after the All-Star break only a couple weeks ago. Isn’t more rest a good thing for any team in the midst of a grueling schedule made even worse by the fact it is condensed? Common sense would say of course, and teams with rested players generally tend to play better than teams on the second game of a back-to-back. It’s not the rest that is the problem, but that players are getting too much rest.
How can someone get too much rest? Sports players, like most people, are creatures of habit, and fans hear all the time about the weird rituals these players perform before they take the ice or mound or field. With sports being a large part mental as well as physical, anything that breaks those rhythms also affects performance. This is where the bye week comes in; it gives players too much rest and breaks their routine. The break in routine causes a drop in performance until teams get back up to speed and the numbers support this theory.
Performance after the Bye Week
As of right now, twelve teams in the NHL have taken their bye week. In order to gauge a team’s performance after the bye week, I just charted their record for the next five games after their breaks. Of those twelve, four haven’t played five games yet so we’ll exclude them. The other eight teams tell a striking story. The average points % for those teams is a measly 32.86. Only two
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teams had a points % over 50, and the team with the best record, Toronto, went 3-1-1 after their bye week while the worst went 0-5-0.
Notably, this is a very small sample size. 8 teams are only around a quarter of the league and two of those teams were Arizona and Colorado the worst teams in the league. But it’s not like the other teams with losing records are all slouches. The Islanders, Rangers, Ottawa, and Pittsburgh are all competing for a playoff spot. In terms of actually winning games, though, it seems that the bye week has a negative effect at least in the short term.
What about the Hurricanes?
The schedule doesn’t do the Carolina Hurricanes any favors either after the bye week. 4 of the 5 next teams hold or are within two points of a playoff spot. (I know, I know almost every team this year is within two points of a playoff spot, but I consider the Flames a dangerously skilled team on the rise). It’s not all doom and gloom though for the team after the bye week. Those next five games are all at home where Carolina is a dangerous 17-6-1. So the idea of them reeling off a five-game win streak isn’t completely out of the question.
But the thing is, nobody made a fortune betting the Carolina Hurricanes will beat the odds. Especially this season with the teams’ uneven performances making them look like world beaters one game and an overmatched AHL team the next. Which ultimately means that fans hoping the extended rest period rejuvenates the team into a push for that final playoff spot are going to be disappointed. The Canes have a hard enough time winning when the numbers are in their favor. Now that the percentages are stacked against them, a bleak result seems almost guaranteed.