Rasmus Andersson hasn’t played a game since being emergency recalled and subsequently being listed as a regular recall now. There was that one really close chance of him playing… but then it didn’t happen. We know that the third pairing isn’t exactly the most glamorous or incredibly agile pairing on the team with Matt Bartkowski and Deryk Engelland so there’s an opportunity there for Andersson possibly: the rationale being, you’re adding another puck-moving defensman with an offensive upside to give you an added punch down this final stretch. To contrast that, the unhealthy enamored feelings Glen Gulutzan has for handedness on each pairing probably quells that.
Yesterday on Sportsnet 960, Will Nault and Pat Steinberg were briefly discussing the concept of resting regulars after clinching. It’s not a new technique by any means, nor is it exclusive to hockey as we’re starting to see more NBA teams sitting stars to prolong their performance. It’s also notable that there is some evidence to suggest that resting NBA players on road game back-to-backs helps eliminate the risk of injury. A team like the San Antonio Spurs, coached by Gregg Popovich, has been doing it for years and it’s been a huge part of their success with an aging, talented core.
For Andersson to crack the lineup and get some time in with the Flames, it might be hard given the schedule ahead of the team is a mess of California teams all jockeying for points to solidify playoff positions. This is the most obvious and easy to assume detraction from this concept. Couple that with Gulutzan’s habitual decisions in nearly every game during their miraculous point run to keep things as status quo and it makes it harder to see this as a reality.
All that said there is an incredible opportunity for the hockey teams to potentially utilize this approach more and more. An 82 game season, in this sport, often with some egregious decisions in scheduling is damaging enough for keeping players as close to 100% as possible.
So, if the Flames clinch tonight against the Los Angeles Kings, would you rest someone to play Rasmus Andersson for a game or two? If so, when and for how many games?