The Los Angeles Kings punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals thanks to a dramatic, multi-comeback, Game 7 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks this past Sunday. They only get two whole days off before they’re right back on the ice for Game 1 against the New York Rangers.
This has been the theme for L.A. this postseason: a grueling, seven game series, a couple days to recoup and then on to the next one. They’ve played 21 games during their most recent Cup run, and though it’s just one more than their upcoming opponent, it’s not insane to wonder just how much the Kings have left in the tank.
The Rangers haven’t played since last Thursday, so they’ve certainly been given a lot of rest as they prepare to try and bring home their first Cup since 1994. The Kings, however, just keep rolling along. They’ve been faced with the daunting task of three separate road Game 7s, and somehow won each one. L.A. has had to win four straight to survive, they listened as the media peppered them with questions about whether or not they could beat Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson, and then saw their 3-1 lead over Chicago fall apart. And, despite every hurdle looking insurmountable, the Kings prevailed.
A great story, yes, but you better believe it’s taken a lot out of the players involved. Anyone who watched Los Angeles’ series against the Blackhawks and doesn’t think it took a huge toll clearly wasn’t paying attention. Team captain Dustin Brown even admitted the Chicago series was the most emotional he’s ever been a part of. Add this to the two rounds before, and you wouldn’t blame the Kings for being absolutely depleted right now.
It may sound odd saying this after all that, but the lack of rest could actually benefit Los Angeles in this situation. Along with the typical argument that the team who gets the most rest also collects the most rust, it wouldn’t be crazy to assume going right from an insane Game 7 victory to playing for the Stanley Cup in the span of three days would be good for the Kings. Best to keep the train rolling and carry any momentum gained into the next series. Can you imagine how tough it would be for L.A. to both mentally and physically take the ice in Game 1 if they were given a ton of days off after their victory over Chicago?
The team is no doubt beyond tired after all of this. Drew Doughty, the Kings’ top Conn Smythe contender at the moment, is averaging just under half an hour of ice time per game. Everyone is aching, everybody’s weary. An extra few days would’ve helped, but not a ton.
Despite the fact the Kings are more than likely still emotionally and physically drained from their run so far, the lack of days off might not be as detrimental to their hopes as it would appear. Essentially, they haven’t gotten any significant rest since this postseason started, so why bother starting now? All they need to do is win four more games and then they can get all the relaxation they want.