If there's ever a series you want to see your team playing at 100% then it's definitely the Stanley Cup Finals. But there is also a line to draw when it comes down to a battle of rest vs. rust. This year's Cup run may be the prime example of that.
:James Mirtle over at From the Rink posted something the other day that mentions the expected craziness of the Finals schedule:
Because the Blackhawks won on Friday night, the finals are now guaranteed to start two weeks from now on June 5 regardless of when the conference finals end. Rather than start the finals on May 29 or 30 in the scenario outlined above, the league is set to pause for more than a week, likely only in order to please television execs in the U.S. (and perhaps avoid head-to-head matchups with the NBA playoffs which will apparently end earlier).
From the Rink
June 5. So if the Penguins complete the sweep Tuesday night and win in Carolina then Game 1 of the Finals is 10 full days away.
It goes without saying that guys like Sergei Gonchar could use the rest. The same could probably be said about a few other guys on the roster fighting through various injuries. But 10 days?
Another area of concern is the days off in between once the series does start. This Carolina series has been an exception to the game-every-other-day series we've seen for most of the playoffs. As it is the Penguins have today AND tomorrow off before they play again, after just having played two games in three days. In the case of the Finals, a Game 7, should it be necessary, will play on June 15. Just to make that entirely clear, the Finals will start on June 5 and end no later than June 15. An every-other-day schedule would have that ending on June 17. Does this mean we can expect back-to-back games in the Finals? Yes. Somewhere.
Edit: Just found this on Puck Daddy regarding back-to-back games in the Finals:
Games One and Two of the Stanley Cup will be played on back-to-back nights, June 5 and 6. Like Cole points out, should the NHL schedule the remaining five games every second day, Game Seven could fall on June 16th, one day after the League's drop dead date of ending the season of June 15th. So, would that mean two sets of back-to-back games in the Cup finals to meet the NHL's planned end date?
No, I don't think we should draw this current series out longer than it has to just so the team isn't sitting around for 10 days. But I have to ask - is this scenario leading the Pens into a potential trap of too much rest?