The Advantages of Losing
in the midst of the emotion and the passion of this Olympic competition, we forget there are implications for the NHL, the stretch drive and maybe the playoffs.
And maybe that's why people like it so much. It's a break from the NHL season.
Thankfully, there have been no significant injuries to NHLers so far. But you can bet the NHL teams that own the players eliminated in the qualification round and the quarterfinals won't be shedding any tears today.
The Washington Capitals, for example, will now get Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Fleischmann back without those players having to play two more Olympic hockey games. Instead of arriving back in D.C. on Monday and then trying to get ready for next Wednesday's game at Buffalo, the Caps crew will have a few days off and probably rejoin their NHL club by Saturday or Sunday.
That's a significant difference. All of those players undoubtedly would have been happy if their countries had advanced. That's why they're here. But the rest always helps.
By comparison, the Pittsburgh Penguins may get Evgeny Malkin and Sergei Gonchar back sooner, but Sidney Crosby (Canada) and Brooks Orpik (U.S.) will be going to the bitter end.
Vancouver knows the Olympics are done for the Sedins, but Roberto Luongo still has lots of work to do. The San Jose Sharks know that Douglas Murray and Evgeny Nabokov can now return to focussing on the NHL season, but their entire top line of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau is still playing for Canada, as is defenceman Dan Boyle, while centre Joe Pavelski is going hard for the Americans.
The Chicago Blackhawks won't get Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith back until Monday, while Detroit knows its stars Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg now have a few extra days to come down from the high of the Olympics. Again, all these players would rather be playing.
But there's a price to be paid.