-- NHL players are creatures of habit, so after playing every other day for two weeks, the Philadelphia Flyers
got a bit of a gift this week with a three-day break.
But is it a good thing? The rest might be nice for players banged up and bruised from a physical seven-game first-round series against the Buffalo Sabres
, but wouldn't they like to build off the momentum gained from their emotional Game 7 win?
"I don't believe in momentum in the playoffs," coach Peter Laviolette
said. "I believe in desperation."
His players agree with him.
"I think a lot of guys have some bumps and bruises. It was a hard series on us. Buffalo had a lot of guys that finished their checks. The rest was welcomed."
-- Scott Hartnell
"It's not like we had a long layoff," defenseman Braydon Coburn
told NHL.com. "I don't think any momentum we generated from the last series we'll lose any of that."
After winning Game 7 Tuesday, the Flyers took off Wednesday, and then had crisp practices Thursday and Friday, leading into Game 1 Saturday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). So it's not like the players got to kick back and head to the beach for a few days.
"As an older guy you need a couple days off," defenseman Kimmo Timonen
said. "I like a couple days off. It wasn't too many days off -- we had one day off and then we got right back at it. But I liked it. I don't know how everyone else feels, but I like it."
The rest also allows the players to recover from what was a more physical series than anticipated. Buffalo out-hit the Flyers 193-186 over the seven games.
"I think a lot of guys have some bumps and bruises," forward Scott Hartnell
said. "It was a hard series on us. Buffalo had a lot of guys that finished their checks. The rest was welcomed."
In addition, injured players like forward Jeff Carter
and defenseman Chris Pronger
pick up another day in their recovery.
"We've got guys out of the lineup, it's a chance for them to heal up more," Laviolette said. "Every day is a good thing when it comes to that. We'll use it. Whether we like it or not, it's the way it is and we'll use it to our advantage to prepare."
Power vs. power? -- If power plays can help teams win in the playoffs, the Flyers and Boston Bruins
might be exceptions to that rule.
The Flyers went 5-for-35 in the series, but just 2-for-26 in the first five games. The Bruins went 0-for-21 in seven games against the Canadiens, becoming the first team in NHL history to win a playoff series without scoring a power-play goal.
"It's frustrating for me to watch," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said of his power play. "I know these guys want to succeed at it; I know the coaching staff, that's been at the top of their list. … And we're going to figure it out."
The Flyers solved their extra-man woes by inserting Chris Pronger
into the lineup for Game 6 against the Sabres, and they went 3-for-9 in the final two games.
"He definitely adds a calming effect out there," Hartnell said. "Even Game 6 when he played just 4 1/2 minutes on the power play, you could tell we were getting things set up, we were getting the shots we wanted to from the one-timers … definitely the other team has to respect him, has to respect his shot, has to respect his play-making ability. We're excited to have him for a full series."
Hartnell added the other half of the special-teams equation is to keep the Bruins with their 0-fer on the power play.
"I know Buffalo had some success on us on their power play," he said. "Tightening it up, blocking shots, making that first save, our defensemen clearing rebounds -- we need all that to be successful. … Hopefully we can keep that (Boston power play) stat as long as possible."
However, the players know Boston will come even harder to get some advantage out of their man-advantage group.
"They're going to be better, I'm sure," Timonen said. "We can't think they won't be better because they didn't score any power-play goals. They're going to be better and play harder to make it better."
Grudge match -- It's pretty clear last year's epic playoff series between the Flyers and Bruins will be a major storyline throughout this year's matchup.
However, much has changed on both sides since Game 7 last May. The Bruins have added seven new players, including Nathan Horton
, Chris Kelly
, Rich Peverley
and Tomas Kaberle
, and will have David Krejci
and Dennis Seidenberg
healthy this year.
On the other side, the Flyers have added Kris Versteeg
, Nikolay Zherdev
, Andrej Meszaros
, Sean O'Donnell
and Sergei Bobrovsky
Still the echoes of last year remain.
"Right now just talking about it brings back a lot of great memories of that series," Hartnell said.
While the loss could give the Bruins extra motivation to exact some form of revenge, Danny Briere
believes that can work both ways.
"There's one thing that I found playing against the Bruins -- it always seems to bring out the best of this team," he said. "The rivalry, how physical they are -- they are not a team that you can take a period off (against) because they will make you pay. They are a team that forces you to always be on your toes."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK