Everyone knows that sometimes a little vacation does the body and mind good. It creates an opportunity to recharge the batteries and return to the grind refreshed.
In the NHL, this two week hiatus from banging along the boards can be a great thing for some teams. A large number of players get to relax at home and let their bodies rest and recharge. Some get to rediscover a jump their step may have lost. Still other players may help competitors by wearing down during the extra two weeks of Olympic hockey. Surely I have some specifics in mind?
Carolina Hurricanes -- The Canes are prime target number one to reap the rewards of this hiatus. Carolina had an atrocious start to their season. They didn't win their first road game until December 7. Much like Toronto, they were well on their way to being a bug on the shoe of the 2009-10 season. However, they hit the Olympic break having won five in a row and 10 of their last 13, and have posted a 15-8-1 record since Christmas.
Where has this streak come from? An offensive resurgence. Eric Staal and Jussi Jokinen tallied 20 goals and 16 assists in the last 13 games, after posting only 23 and 40 combined in their first 83 total games played. When your top two players jump from 0.75 to 2.75 points per game, your nightly outcome is bound to improve.
Add to that the recent return of Tuomo Ruutu, who was on pace for 25 goals of his own before going down, and stud goaltender Cam Ward, and things are suddenly looking very upward for the Hurricanes. If Manny Legace can hold the fort against teams like Florida and Toronto and not embarrass himself against the likes of Pittsburgh and Washington, then Ward's return in a couple of weeks could mean a serious playoff push come Easter time for Carolina.