Jun 3, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
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.”
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.)
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.
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.
Aug 19, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
It’s been a good summer in Dallas.
Aug 19, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Yeah, we don’t get it either.
Aug 19, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT
He’s not going out of his way for it, however.
Aug 19, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
You earn a lot of votes winning a Stanley Cup.
Aug 19, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
He had a down season and worse playoffs last year.
Aug 19, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Will the Rangers reap the benefits?
Aug 19, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
Can the former 15th overall pick establish himself as a full-time NHLer?
Aug 19, 2014, 4:44 PM EDT
He was second on the team in goals last season.
Aug 19, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT
Capology and Corsi gone wild in Toronto.
Aug 19, 2014, 2:37 PM EDT
It’s 105 games long and — perhaps most importantly — starts in just 33 days.
Aug 19, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT
Pending NHL Board of Governors approval.
Aug 19, 2014, 1:23 PM EDT
After just one year on the job?
Aug 19, 2014, 12:29 PM EDT
And his agent says NHL teams are now expressing an interest.
Aug 19, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT
It’s quite the honor to wear the “C” on Broadway.
Aug 19, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT
So much for the trial of the decade.
Aug 19, 2014, 9:57 AM EDT
Former North Dakota star had 25 goals for AHL Hartford last year.
Aug 19, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
There are murmurs about a training camp tryout.
Aug 19, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
An offseason full of change for the 2014 Stanley Cup finalists.
Aug 18, 2014, 11:03 PM EDT
There’s still time to bridge the gap, though.
Aug 18, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
He’ll probably own most of the franchise’s major records by next season.
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