Break is wonderful, but how much is too much?
A year ago, they never had more than four days off between series, with an average of three per round.
Conventional wisdom says the more rest a team gets in its playoff run, the better its chances are. The results, however, are a mixed bag. Seven of the past 10 Stanley Cup champions averaged at least 4.3 days of rest between their series, with the leader being the 2012 Los Angeles Kings, who averaged six days off between rounds.
But other teams have done it with shorter breaks.
The 2014 Kings, for instance, averaged just 1.7 days off before each round and never got more than two.
There are reasons to think these Penguins could benefit from time off, especially in this situation. They’re coming off a firstround series against a Columbus team known for its physicality, and also still are recovering from injuries that swept through the locker room at the end of the regular season.
Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel and winger Chris Kunitz are skating on their own and appear to be tracking toward their return. The Penguins also still hope to get winger Carl Hagelin and goaltender Matt Murray back at some point in the relatively near future, though their status is murkier.
“You can use it as rest, and you can use it as time to prepare for who you’re going to play,” center Sidney Crosby said. “I think that it’s big. We’ve had some guys that have been injured and banged up. Hopefully, we’ll get some guys back slowly here. It was a physical series. To get a couple of days to rest and get ready, that’ll help us.”
The Penguins took Friday off from practice, but likely will return to the ice at some point this weekend. While they’re looking forward to the benefits of an extended layoff, they certainly are aware of the danger of rust setting in, especially since this break figures to be longer than any they got a year ago.
“I think staying sharp is huge,” defenseman Ian Cole said.
“We can’t just take the next four days off, not do anything and then hope to come out and play well in the first game. We have to continue to stay active, continue to keep that competitive spirit up, those competitive juices flowing.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do, I don’t know what the schedule is, we don’t know any of that yet. Whatever it is, we’re going to have to continue to practice hard and make sure we’re going.”