In December, the National Hockey League shut down for three days for its annual Christmas break. At the end of January, a select few players will travel to Nashville while the rest will hit the beach—or the couch—during the annual All-Star Weekend.
The All-Star break begins on Thursday, Jan. 28 and extends until Monday, Feb. 1. Games will resume on Feb. 2. For many players, this break is a much-needed opportunity to refresh themselves both physically and mentally before digging in for the regular-season stretch run and, if all goes well, the Stanley Cup playoffs.
We're at the halfway point of the season, yet only a few teams have effectively been eliminated from playoff contention. In the second half, each club's schedule will play a role in determining which ones improve or maintain their positions and which ones are more likely to fall back.
Here's a look at the teams that will endure the toughest challenges in the time between Jan. 11 and the All-Star break.