VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The schedule for the NHL Stanley Cup finals took away a potential edge for the Vancouver Canucks, but players and coaches said on Thursday they welcome the time to rest up.
The league announced the best-of-seven series will begin Wednesday in Vancouver, which is a later start than many observers had expected.
Western Conference champions Vancouver advanced to the final Tuesday by defeating San Jose in game five of that series. But the Eastern Conference final will not be decided until Friday’s game between Boston and Tampa Bay.
A quicker start for the finals might have given Vancouver an edge in facing a tired opponent that faced the prospect of playing seven games then flying across the continent to meet the Canucks.
“It is what it is,” Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin said.
Sedin said there were plenty of examples of teams that have a rest-advantage going into a playoff series only to lose the opening games.
Player said they also welcomed the chance to recover from all the minor injuries they took in the last playoff round and to refocus mentally after the excitement of advancing to the finals.
“It gets you out of the roller coaster ride of being up so high after the win. It kind of brings you back down to earth to prepare for the next round,” defenseman Sami Salo said.
This is the first time in 17 years Vancouver has advanced to the finals, so Stanley Cup fever has gripped the city on Canada’s Pacific coast.
Coach Alain Vigneault said while the team was enjoying the excitement, he recognizes part of its job through the playoffs is to make sure players do not get caught up in the distractions.
“I think so far we have done a real good job of making sure that they stay focused on that one game at a time mentality,” Vigneault said.
Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Julian Linden