Friday, April 18, 2008

Rest, not rust

Welcome to day 2 of the layoff as the Pens rest and wait to see who the next opponent will be.

Right now we are moderately cheering for longer series. The longer the series, the less in tact and energy whoever emerges should have. #8 seed Boston didn’t say die last night when they could have, but Washington was dealt a double-OT heartbreaker that might have emptied their tank completely.

For the Pens, this rest will be a good one. The obvious beneficiary of this has to be Gary Roberts, who injured his groin during his comeback from a broken leg and high-ankle sprain. A groin injury is pretty common in that situation, since the player over-uses that muscle to compensate for the leg not being in full shape. Getting what could be about 2 more weeks of rest could have Roberts at pain-free capacity for the second round.

Then you’ve got a guy like Ryan Malone who plays a physical style and didn’t practice much during the Ottawa series. About a week off for him ought to do the trick perfectly to get the aches and pains out, a luxury not to many teams have at this time of the year. Sidney Crosby, who’s ankle does seem to be allowing him to reach full speed, gets even more time to rest up.

Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal were the only Pens to play all 82 games, but seven players played at least 77 regular season games. Some, like Sergei Gonchar, chew up a ton of minutes. Others, like Brooks Orpik and Hal Gill play the body and put themselves in front of a lot of rubber. A break would do well for them.

There’s always the worry about rust, but I don’t think that will be too much of a factor. The latest the 2nd round could begin is, what the 24th? That would be an eight day layoff but the players are professional and will be practicing in the interim. Obviously nothing compares to the intensity of NHL playoff games but the benefit of rest should far outweigh any edge the team might lose.

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