Yeah, it's been that long.
New Jersey Devils Coach Peter DeBoer wasn't sure if the Kings' layoff — having not played since they eliminated the Phoenix Coyotes on May 22 — would equate to rust in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night.
"It's a good question. I don't know. [That] gave us an advantage against Philly I thought in Game 1. I thought we were the sharper team to start that game, even though we lost. I believe we out-shot them 15- 20 to 5-6 in the first period. We ended up losing that game, ran out of gas," recalled DeBoer.
"You know, I thought that we were the sharper team in Game 1 probably due to the long layoff they had. At the same time it depends how you handle the layoff. I'm sure they're going to be very aware of not being stale. Knowing Darryl [Sutter], I don't expect they'll have any rust on them."
Coach Darryl Sutter and the Los Angeles Kings weren't concerned about rust heading into Game 1. They've dealt with gaps in games before during the postseason — six days between the elimination of the Blues and Game 1 against the Coyotes, five days between the elimination of the Canucks and Game 1 against the Blues.
They're 3-0 in Game 1s of playoff series this postseason.
"A lot to do with coaching. A lot to do with leadership," he said. "I think everybody on our team says the right things. [Captain Dustin Brown] been the same guy in the playoffs that he was in the beginning of our playoff run."
Sutter said it's been beneficial to the team's health.
"Obviously we've been able to manage our time well. I think between the regular season and when we played Vancouver, there was, what was it, two or three days? Then the next one was five or six. As series go along, there are players that definitely need days away and days off," he said. "Guys are banged up. But I think it's really helped our two or three older players."
If there is rust for the Kings, the key to shaking it off is engaging the Devils in the first 10 minutes of the game — whether they're fueled by nervous energy or animosity.
How long will it take for the Kings to build up hate for the Devils? "It could be as long as a shift," said Dustin Penner.
An admittedly nervous Dustin Penner: "I'm keeping the butterflies at bay right now. I'm sure they'll start fluttering around 7:30."
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