The NHL has been battling COVID for over a week now, with no sign of things getting any better in the short term. With that in mind, the league have decided to pause the season during the Christmas period, in a bid to to try and keep players and teams safe, so that things can start again in the New Year.
The final NHL game will take place on Tuesday night, with the current back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, taking on the Vegas Golden Knights, one of their main challengers this season, so we are certainly going out with a bang.
However, after that, we have no hockey until next Monday at the earliest, though there is a possibility that the league extends this for a few more days, to isolate teams and allow the players currently in COVID protocol the chance to return to the line up.
NHL Olympic Participation Also Scrapped
With NHL players pulling out of the Olympics, pending an official announcement, the league will use the three weeks set aside for Olympic participation to fulfil the fixtures missed during this period and over the past few days by those who have moved into COVID protocol.
For those who are healthy at the moment, and fulfilling their current games, that means an additional few days of rest during the Christmas period, and then potentially three weeks with either no games to be rearranged or just one or two, meaning another good rest period.
Will that help or hinder their chances of glory?
Stanley Cup Favourites Also Favoured by Pause Decision
Despite winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles, the Tampa Bay Lightning are not actually favourites to win the cup again this season. That position is held by the Colorado Avalanche, and they are certainly a team that will benefit from the pause in play.
With key players Cale Makar, Devon Toews and Darcy Keumper amongst the players currently in COVID protocol for the Avs, they currently have a severely weakened team. In the early stages of this, the Avs played on, but were beaten by Nashville and straight after that, the team were shut down.
Winners of five straight games before that, and eight in a row at home, the break will half their momentum and confidence, but at the same time, it will also allow for players to get healthy again, before the franchise goes again after Christmas.