One of the thousands of tweets I've read recently (and of course can't locate now that I actually wanted to use it) was a quote from St. Louis forward David Backes. Backes, a member of Team USA, said that it took him 14-21 day, much longer than expected, to feel like he got his full and normal energy back from the travel and Olympic experience.
Just thinking that, knowing that the Pittsburgh Penguins have rested Jussi Jokinen, Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Brooks Orpik- all Olympic participants makes a lot of sense. Two of their other Olympians (Evgeni Malkin and Olli Maatta) have been injured since Sochi and the other one (Paul Martin) just returned from an injury he suffered there.
An 82 game NHL season is no joke in the first place, with pucks, sticks and bodies flying around there's no limit to the number of ways to suffer an injury, even before freak occurrences like Kris Letang having a stroke at 26 years old. It's a dangerous sport, the Pens were right to give some breaks to their top players, now that they've clinched the Metropolitan Division, and the Boston Bruins have run away with the #1 seed overall in the East.
The Pens recent schedule has been murderous, due to that Olympic break that put a pause to the NHL season that now have to have the games squeezed in to make sure that the owners and players can keep their revenue up. Starting in the weekend series with the Philadelphia Flyers back on March 15th, Pittsburgh played 14 games in 23 days, including this Western swing through Winnipeg, Minnesota and Colorado. They haven't had three days off in that period.
Giving Crosby, Kunitz and Orpik nights off will give them those three days off. The Pens playoffs will start on Wednesday April 16 or the following night, and there's only three more regular season games from now until then. It remains to be seen when (or in Letang's case- if) the Pens will get key players back from injury, however the smart decision to rest stars now will help pay off in the second season.