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Will rest be a big advantage for the Rangers?

Jun 3, 2014, 9:00 AM EST

The New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings have both wrestled with fatigue during this postseason. The difference is that the Rangers got their biggest headaches out of the way early and should be well-rested on Wednesday.

The question is: how big will that advantage be?

“We just have to reset again. We do it so well,” Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said. “We did it during the regular season. We did it before the Olympics. We did it after the Olympics. We did it before the playoffs started.  We did it after Game 7 of the first round. We just have to do it again.”

Maxing out

The Rangers played in 20 out of 21 possible games while the Kings played all 21 through the first three rounds. Los Angeles must play on Wednesday after winning the most emotional series of Dustin Brown‘s career on Sunday.

To give you a point of comparison, the Kings and Rangers played 41 postseason games through three rounds while last year’s finalists Boston Bruins (16) and Blackhawks (17) required 33 games to get to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. (Remarkably, Los Angeles cleared three rounds in 14 games in the 2012 title run.)

Immediate concerns

So each team has played a lot in this postseason, but one team is coming in with more rest nonetheless. So far, each team managed quick turnarounds quite well.

The Rangers began their second-round series on a Friday after closing out Philadelphia in a Game 7 that Wednesday, yet they won both contests. Maybe New York wore down later on in the series against Pittsburgh, yet they showed some nice resiliency all things considered. This current break is their most luxurious of the playoffs.

The Kings’ transitions look like this:

Round 1 to 2: Game 7 at San Jose (Wednesday, April 30) to Game 1 at Anaheim (Saturday, May 3)
Round 2 to 3: Game 7 at Anaheim (Friday, May 16) to Game 1 at Chicago (Sunday, May 18)
Round 3 to 4: Game 7 at Chicago (June 1) to Game 1 at home (June 4)

The saving grace of those early rounds was limited travel, with things really getting tough in the Western Conference finals. Really, the Kings handled these situations remarkably well; Sutter only believed that the Kings looked tired for a brief chunk of Game 1 against Chicago, for instance.

It still seems reasonable to wonder if it will all catch up to them now, though.

Specific impacts

Neither team runs too many players “into the ground,” which probably factors into their abilities to fight through fatigue.

Ryan McDonagh draws a lot of attention, yet Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are reliable enough to spread the wealth. That probably explains why no Rangers skater averages more than McDonagh’s 24:49 minutes per night.

The biggest beneficiary of the Rangers’ break is likely to be Henrik Lundqvist. With a long Olympic run plus his usual regular season workload (63 games), such a layoff could be very valuable to the 32-year-old netminder.

Los Angeles is deep in its own right, although it’s fair to say that Drew Doughty carries a lot of responsibility on defense. He’s logging just under 28 minutes per night (27:51) and while he’s been mostly fantastic, Keith Jones and Mike Milbury expressed the belief that he looked fatigued in Game 7.

With all apologies to Slava Voynov, there are some weaker spots in the Kings defense that could be exposed if Doughty really is running on fumes.

***

The Kings seem spry enough to grind out another tough turnaround, yet there’s always the question of how many times one team can climb that mountain. It’s the Rangers’ job to exploit whatever advantage this presents, though.

  1. nightfireop - Jun 3, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    i think the first game may have an issue of fatigue, especially on the kings side. after that the game resets. so if the kings can win the first one in game 1, lucky. if the rangers can win 1, it’s a steal.

    bottom line though, it’s whoever wants it more and make a statement right off the bat.

  2. JoeAvg - Jun 3, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    Don’t know how long it’s going to be there but if you go to the CBC’s NHL page and click the Final button in the bracket, it already proclaims the Kings as Stanley Cup Champs!

    • nightfireop - Jun 3, 2014 at 9:57 AM

      stupid. why would they do that?!

      • JoeAvg - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:34 AM

        I’m sure they have three graphics ready to go and just posted the wrong one.

  3. stepanup - Jun 3, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    Rangers need to steal game 1, it’ll be much easier than game 2 in terms of getting that split on the road. Get it done boys! LGR!

    • nightfireop - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      whoever wants it more.

      • hrudey - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:04 AM

        You don’t get to the finals to have another team “want it more.” These teams won’t quit and whoever wins will win because they made more plays, not because the other team wanted it less.

  4. ron05342 - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Please.

    The Kings have almost three full days’ rest, and then after game one, almost three full days rest again. Give me a break. Fatigue will not be an issue.

    • blomfeld - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      REST, SCHMEST !!!

      Well said Ron … we’ll be ‘ready’ for these people, no two ways about it !

  5. fpstratton - Jun 3, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    I don’t think the fatigue issue rears its head here. The Kings will be fine, and so will the Rangers. This series should be a lot of fun to watch. The Rangers play like the Kings did two years ago when they won the Cup. L.A. is more offensive-minded and has more speed on the attack. The Rangers can be explosive offensively, too, but they also go through long scoring droughts, just like L.A. did even earlier in this year’s regular season. Henryk Lundqvist is good enough to win games singlehandedly for the Rangers. Jonathan Quick has shown he can do the same for the Kings. Kings in six.

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