The next time the Penguins go this long between games, they'll be wearing shorts and scheduling tee times.
They are coming off a 5-0 victory against Atlanta Saturday and won't play again until Dallas visits Mellon Arena Friday.
Because they have won consecutive games for the first time in a month, this might not seem like the most opportune time for an extended break. Not that the Penguins are complaining.
"Everyone needs to regroup a little," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "Get a little time off to get your body back to feeling good. It's kind of a win-win."
And, on the subject of win-win, those consecutive victories against Ottawa and the Thrashers late last week did wonderful things for their collective psyche.
"It gives us some confidence and relaxes everyone," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "Everyone was a little tense the last couple of weeks. ... When you lose then get a long time off, it's a long time to think about it."
The Penguins had yesterday off and will hold an optional workout this morning. Full-scale practices should resume tomorrow, when coach Michel Therrien and his staff will have an opportunity to do the kind of teaching that hasn't been possible since training camp.
"We're going to be able to get some good practices in," center Sidney Crosby said. "We probably won't be able to get a lot of quality practices like that for the rest of the year."
Even with demanding practices, players will have more downtime than they are accustomed to at this time of year.
"You get to be home for a while," Whitney said. "Guys with kids and family, it's good for them. I'm sure everyone's excited to be here for a while, to not have to travel for a while because we go out on the road again after that."
The Penguins will be together a lot in December -- they have eight road games in the first 20 days of the month -- but doing it in familiar surroundings is different.
"We don't get too much time to just hang out with the boys and just relax," right winger Colby Armstrong said. "It will be nice to do that."
For some players, this week will be their best chance to take care of holiday shopping. And even if that isn't an issue -- rookie defenseman Kris Letang, for one, said he's finished already -- there are details of day-to-day life that must be addressed.
Doing laundry, for example. And removing the science projects that are threatening to colonize remote corners of the refrigerator.
"It's weird how stuff like that kind of builds up over a couple weeks," Orpik said.
Letang's to-do list includes the usual things, along with a few others.
"Most of the time, I sleep and do my laundry," he said. "I might watch some movies if something is interesting. Movies help me out with slang in English. Sometimes the guys talk and they say some slang and I don't get it."
While the Penguins appear to be reasonably healthy -- center Maxime Talbot (ankle) and defenseman Sergei Gonchar (groin) are believed to be the only players with significant injuries -- almost everyone is dealing with a minor medical issue or two. It's almost impossible to play a couple months' worth of hockey without straining a muscle or something of that sort.
"There are so many guys who have little nagging injuries that you can never get rid of [without time off]," Orpik said.
In less than a week, the Penguins will again be immersed in the season; they'll play five games, in two countries and three time zones, during the first eight days of December. Consequently, even winning two games in a row isn't enough to make them have misgivings about the timing of this break.
"It's never a bad thing to get rest," Orpik said. "It's not like we're on a 10-game win streak. We can't get too far ahead of ourselves."
Dave Molinari can be reached at DWMolinari@Yahoo.com .