How Panthers have balanced recovery and staying ready as they wait for Round 2 of playoffs

The Florida Panthers finishing off their first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series in five games while their eventual Round 2 opponent slogs through a seven-game series has opened up various opportunities for the Panthers.

With Game 1 of Florida’s second-round series against either the Boston Bruins or Toronto Maple Leafs (pending the result of the Game 7 matchup between the teams Saturday night) taking place on Monday, the Panthers have had a week in between games to sort out everything they need to sort out before continuing their postseason run.

On one side of the situation, this has allowed the Panthers a rare chance during the playoffs to rest and recover. That helps the likes of Sam Bennett, who has been out since Game 2 of Florida’s opening-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a hand/wrist injury and just began skating again on Friday.

On the other side of it, the Panthers have had to wait an extended period to not only know when they’ll return to game action but also to figure out who they will be playing.

With game action finally on the horizon again, here is what a few players said about how they approached the past week.

Forward Sam Reinhart: “Any time you can take a break like this, you have to take advantage of it. You’re going to be better off mentally, physically. It’s a grind. Every series is its own battle and has its own challenges. You want to take advantage of a time like this.”

Defenseman Aaron Ekblad: “We’re watching every game, every period. It’s a tight series. We expect that in the next round from either opponent. ... Every series is a war and coming out of that Lightning series was no easier than you’d expect. It was extremely difficult. To get this rest is completely valuable.”

Forward Anton Lundell: “We know it’s gonna start pretty soon, but I feel like last year we kind of went through it. We had a 10-day break I think between the conference final and the Stanley Cup Finals. ... We’ve kind of been there. Once we know the date, you just keep your body ready. Do everything you can do to get the energy back, but at the same time just try to push yourself in practices so you’re ready when Game 1 starts again. That’s the key.”

Forward Nick Cousins: “Rest is always a good thing this time of year. The majority of the guys watched [Game 6 of Boston-Toronto] trying to get a feel of who we’re going to play, but you’ve got to make sure that we keep things sharp and make sure we’re on top of things. It’s been a lot of fun, just coming to the rink and waiting to see.”