The three teams left in the race for the Cup are all feeling the effects of playing an extra month and a half of hockey. And while the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers will be playing their 18th and 20th games of the playoffs (respectively) tonight, the Los Angeles Kings have breezed their way through three rounds with a meager 14.
The Rangers played that many through the opening two rounds and according to STATS, LLC., no Cup-winning team has ever played more than 18 games to get to the Final.
By eliminating the Vancouver Canucks in five games and the St. Louis Blues in four, the Kings are used to having time off between series. With eight days between Game 5 against the Phoenix Coyotes and Game 1 of the Final, is that too much rest for the Kings?
"It's something we have dealt with before. We're not worried about the break. Rest isn't the enemy. We've got a lot of time to go over game tape and watch the other teams play live now. … I think everybody is going to take the opportunity to watch and see who we could potentially play. We'll take the rest now."
Going back to 1994, only five of the 17 teams with the longest break between the Conference Final and Final have gone on to win the Cup, with the last being the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, who had six days between games. In 2003, the Anaheim Ducks swept the Minnesota Wild, then had to wait 11 days for their next game as the Devils and Ottawa Senators went the distance in the East. New Jersey would end up winning the Cup in seven games.
The Kings won both Game 1s against the Blues and Coyotes despite the time off heading into those series and their play so far has demonstrated no signs of rust. Starting the Final on the road in either Newark or New York City could also help quell any nerves not having the pressure to perform in front of their home crowd. That and Los Angeles' road dominance (8-0) so far this postseason can't hurt, either.
So when the puck drops for Game 1 next Wednesday night, Los Angeles will be more than fresh compared to whoever their opponent will be.
Given their success up to this point, there doesn't appear to be anything that could slow down the Kings.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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