Did the Boston Bruins play too well in the Eastern Conference final?
It's a silly question on its face: The Bruins' sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes means they're playing their best hockey at the most important time of the year.
But there's an obvious downside: Bruce Cassidy's squad, which last played on May 16, will have to wait 10 full days before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday against either the St. Louis Blues or San Jose Sharks.
The B's insist the extended layoff won't affect them, as goaltender Tuukka Rask insisted it's only a challenge if you make it one. But we hope they don't investigate how previous Stanley Cup Playoff teams handled long rest periods, because the answer is ... not great.
Take this postseason alone. The New York Islanders got 10 days off after sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, then promptly got swept by the Hurricanes in the second. Carolina waited six days after that sweep ... before getting trounced by the Bruins in the East final.
What about teams with long layovers before the Cup Final? Last year's Vegas Golden Knights are a cautionary tale; they had a full week off after wrapping up the West final in five games but fell flat in the Cup Final, losing in five games to the Washington Capitals.
If you want to stick to series sweeps, we've seen four sweeps in the Conference Finals since the playoffs moved to the new conference oriented format in 1994.
- 2003 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (10 days off) -- lost Stanley Cup Final to New Jersey Devils in seven games
- 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins (3 days off) -- won Cup Final over Detroit Red Wings in seven games
- 2010 Chicago Blackhawks (5 days off) -- won Cup Final over Philadelphia Flyers in six games
- 2013 Bruins (4 days off) -- lost to Blackhawks in six games
With the exception of the 2010 Blackhawks, every team that swept its Conference final either lost the Cup Final or needed seven games to win.
The 2003 Ducks, whose 10 days off are tied with the 2019 Bruins for the longest rest period, were outscored 6-0 in the first two games of the Cup Final, as rust dug them a hole from which they couldn't recover.
Could the B's buck that trend? Absolutely. The club will hold an intrasquad scrimmage Thursday, and Boston's veteran corps -- Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand -- has seen both victory and defeat in the Cup Final.
But history suggests it might take the Bruins a bit to find their ice legs Monday.
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