Scott Niedermayer and Daniel Alfredsson won't be able to blame fatigue should they come up short in their quest for the Stanley Cup.
MONTREAL - Any playoff team offered a chance to get some extra rest leading up to the Stanley Cup Final would gladly accept a well-deserved breather. Although, recent playoff history suggests that may not be such a good idea.
After slaying the Sabres in five games, the Senators are now facing the seemingly welcome prospect of nursing their bumps and bruises. With eight and five days of rest respectively, the Senators and Ducks should both be raring to go when the Stanley Cup finals kick off Monday night in Anaheim.
The trouble is, having that extra downtime has spelled disaster more often than not of late. The past four Cup finalists to enjoy an extended break have seen the Stanley Cup slip through their fingers. Edmonton, Anaheim, Buffalo and Vancouver all fell short of their ultimate goal. In fact, these same Ducks bowed out to the Devils in seven games in 2003 despite their NHL-record nine-day layoff. The league's next-longest break belonged to the Oilers, whose eight-day hiatus before facing Carolina was not enough to solve the Hurricanes in 2006.
The last well-rested squad to go on to win the Stanley Cup was the Canadiens in the spring of 1993, who sat through a six-day stretch before taking on the L.A. Kings. Once they handled the Islanders in five games, Jacques Demers' crew awaited the Kings, who needed a full seven games to eliminate Toronto. Fatigue and a healthy dose of Patrick Roy did in the Kings, who watched the Habs raise the Cup after Game 5 at the Montreal Forum.
Rest in Peace
The 1993 Habs were the last rested team to win the Stanley Cup.
|YEAR ||TEAM ||REST ||RESULT |
|2003 ||Anaheim ||9 days ||Lost in seven games to NJ |
|2006 ||Edmonton ||8 days ||Lost in seven games to CAR |
|2007 ||Ottawa ||8 days ||??? |
|1984 ||Edmonton ||8 days ||Won in five games over NYI |
|1993 ||Montreal ||7 days ||Won in five games over LA |
|1999 ||Buffalo ||7 days ||Lost in six games to DAL |
|1970 ||Boston ||6 days ||Won in four games over STL |
|1988 ||Edmonton ||6 days ||Won in four games over BOS |
|1983 ||Edmonton ||6 days ||Lost in four games to NYI |
|2007 ||Anaheim ||5 days ||??? |
The Canadiens are a perfect 2-0 in Stanley Cup final series after having benefited from a lengthy break, with Montreal having swept the St. Louis Blues in 1968 after five days off.
The Oilers are no strangers to patiently awaiting their eventual opponent in the Stanley Cup final. Edmonton has had to twiddle their thumbs a league-high four times. After being swept by the Islanders following a five-day break in 1983, the young Oilers learned their lesson. The following year, Edmonton became the most rested team to ever win the Stanley Cup by making quick work of the Islanders after eight days off in 1984.
The Senators and Ducks are only the 15th and 16th teams to head into the Stanley Cup finals with a break of five days or more, dating back to 1967-68. Over that span, the rested team has surprisingly not had the upper hand with only a 6-8 record in those series.
Whichever team is unable to translate their added rest into a Stanley Cup ring this spring, it's a safe bet that they will be in for a few sleepless nights this summer.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com