On paper, facing the two bottom seeds in your conference would theoretically mean that you could cruise to the conference finals. Instead, the New York Rangers needed all 14 games to put down the Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators through two rounds.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Devils efficiently handled the Philadelphia Flyers in five games after a seven-game battle against the Florida Panthers. Some might believe that the Devils will carry a significant freshness edge, but Rangers star Brad Richards isn’t concerned.
“I mean, first two series, you don’t really think about it like that … but we’re just halfway,” Richards said. “We’re a young team. We should be excited and energetic going into this. I don’t think anybody is going to be tired.”
Meanwhile, the rest vs. rust factor flip flops for the Devils. They faced the Flyers just days after beating the Panthers in overtime of Game 7 and while it seemingly showed as they wore down in Game 1 against Philly, New Jersey won the next four games. Now they’ll have the advantage of resting older and banged up players at the possible loss of momentum.
Which team do you think will be at an advantage as the series begins on Monday?
It’s an age-old question that probably only has subjective answers: is it better to get a big break between series or barely get a chance to catch your breath? The New Jersey Devils beat the Philadelphia Flyers in round two after a quick turnaround, but after a rugged Game 5, they might just root for the Washington Capitals-New York Rangers series to go a full seven games.
The Flyers showed their frustrations with some big hits on Tuesday. Tom Gulitti didn’t receive an update from the Devils on defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who was shaken up by a Wayne Simmonds hit. Dainius Zubrus told Gulitti that he’s suffering from a charley horse thanks to a Zac Rinaldo hit and that he will “probably need treatment on it going forward.” Anton Volchenkov bounced back from another big Rinaldo check, but he was pretty shaken up at the time.
Ilya Kovalchuk also needed to miss a game in this series and while he bounced back with a vengeance, it’s not crazy to think that he might enjoy a moderate siesta.
Then again, the Devils are playing at a high level right now and they did handle the last quick turnaround quite well, so you can make an argument either way. In the grand scheme of things, it might be a matter of player-by-player opinion.
What do you think, though? Would New Jersey be better off if the other East series ends in six or seven? Does it matter at all either way? Do tell.