To rest or not to rest – that’s not really a question for the Capitals or Lightning. They don’t have much of a choice now; the Caps have five days between the end of the first round and the start of the second, while the Lightning have one day off.
But there’s still plenty of debate as to which team benefits.
“I don’t think it’s advantage or disadvantage,” defenseman Scott Hannan said.” They’re a team that played 82 games; they played a lot of games this year, so will we. They’re gonna be ready.”
There are two schools of thought. One is that with all the tight-checking, physical playoff games every day without a game is another chance to heal up and rest. The other is that it’s unnatural to have a lot of days off this time of year and it helps to keep playing.
Naturally, most players around Kettler think the rest is a good thing – but they’re prepared for the Lightning to repeat some history they saw last season.
“It sounds like it’s going to be pretty good [for us],” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “Bruce made a good point earlier today that after Montreal beat us they had to turn around and play Pittsburgh right away and they stole that first game, so obviously it doesn’t mean a whole lot, but we’ll do our best to make sure that it benefits us as much as possible.”
Several players brought up that Montreal-Pittsburgh situation from last year, obviously a talking point behind closed doors with the Caps. There is something to be said about an emotional advantage Tampa Bay could have after eliminating the Penguins on Wednesday night.
“I think they’re fired up after Game 7 win, and they’re ready to get going again [Friday],” center Nicklas Backstrom said.
Similarly, it’s not an easy task to get ramped back up for game action after so much time away. The Caps did sprints Thursday as part of a full practice, but that’s not all.
“You’re kind of away from the game for a week and it seems like it’s a month,” forward Marco Sturm said. “You try to stay focused here, and that’s what we had to do.”
No matter which theory you believe, it will obvious in the first 10 minutes which team got the better of the situation.
“Mentally, you gotta be prepared,” Hannan said. “We know that going ahead in Game 1, and we gotta come out and play our best hockey.”