Rangers will once again benefit from extra rest ahead of Eastern Conference Final

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
James Guillory-USA TODAY SportsCredit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers found a way to close out the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round, winning 5-3 after making an incredible comeback down 3-1 entering the third period. They are now the first team to advance to the Eastern Conference Final, and will rest while awaiting the winner of the series between the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins.

The Eastern Conference Final will begin Wednesday, May 22, at Madison Square Garden. The complete series schedule is here.

As was the case in the first two rounds, the Rangers will have some time to rest, reset, and prepare for another round of playoff hockey. This formula has worked through two rounds thus far. In Round 1, New York came out of the gate firing, sweeping the Washington Capitals in four games. The rest they earned allowed them to come out fresh in Round 2, jumping out to a 3-0 series lead against the Hurricanes.

Now, they will rinse and repeat. The Rangers are off Friday and Saturday, and will return to practice Sunday.

For coach Peter Laviolette, the goal is putting together a game plan for whichever team advances between Florida and Boston. The Panthers lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 with Game 6 set for Friday at TD Garden in Boston.

“I think we’ve been fortunate with the way that the season ended, the way that the first round ended,” Laviolette explained. “A little bit of rest, and then almost like a mini training camp to try and get ready for the next opponent has worked really well.”

If the Bruins and Panthers go to Game 7 Sunday, all the better for the Blueshirts.

“I think we’ll have a few days,” Laviolette continued. “I think we’ll be afforded some of that again, which is nice. We’ll be ready. When they tell us it’s time to go, we’ll be ready to go.”

Related: Here’s what’s next for Rangers after finishing off Hurricanes

Rangers should be well rested ahead of Eastern Conference Final

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
James Guillory-USA TODAY SportsCredit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Being able to get through the first two rounds in just 10 games (8-2) could pay dividends the longer the Rangers stay alive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the 2022 postseason, New York won the first two rounds, both in hard-fought seven-game series against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Hurricanes. After going up 2-0 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final, the Blueshirts simply ran out of gas, losing four straight to end their season.

Things have been different, so far, in these playoffs. Between each round, the Rangers have had ample time to rest. This is crucial for players such as Adam Fox, Chris Kreider, and the rest of the team, who now have time to heal those various bumps and bruises sustained throughout the second round. And Larry Brooks reported that the team may be dealing with a flu-like illness, so, again, rest is beneficial.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a grueling journey, and in most cases, the team that can get through in the most efficient way possible will be better equipped to go the distance. If the Panthers advance, they will come into the ECF having played either 11 or 12 games. If it’s the Bruins, they will have played 14 games, as both the first and second rounds will have required a full seven games for them.

The series between the Bruins and Panthers has been extremely physical, as well. Between hard hits, scraps at every whistle, and multiple fights, the victorious team will surely feel the effects as they enter the conference final with less rest than the Rangers.

Until then, the Rangers will rest up and enjoy their second round victory. As Laviolette mentioned, when it is time to go, they’ll be ready.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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