Long Rest Before Game One Beneficial For New York Rangers

Bruce Bennett

The Rangers don't play again until Thursday, and that's a good thing.

So it turns out John Tortorella made the right call. In fact, he made a great call.

Against all the speculation that Tortorella would do the right thing and rest Henrik Lundqvist in the New York Rangers' Saturday afternoon regular season finale against the New Jersey Devils, Tortorella started Lundqvista anyway. It was a risk to put in Martin Biron, yes, since the Rangers were still jockeying for playoff position; but was it worth having Lundqvist worn out for the start of the playoffs?

But Tortorella took two things into account when he made the decision: The shortened season (so even though Lundqvist started virtually every single game, he still only played in 43 games) and the fact that Lundqvist is a workhorse who needs work to stay focused and sharp.

That final point is playing a huge role right now, since the Rangers don't start Game One until Thursday. So even though Lundqvist played on Saturday he'll have four full days of rest before Thursday rolls around. Which means had Lundqvist sat on the bench the superstar goaltender wouldn't have played in a competitive environment for a full week.

Sometimes too much rest is a bad thing.

But here's the other side of the coin: These days off are going to be critical for allowing the Rangers banged up players to fully recover. This extra time will be massive to allowing Ryane Clowe to continue his recovery and be fully prepared for Game One. Same goes for guys like Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash and all the other Rangers who have minor bumps and bruises as the season came to an end.

The time off might also be the difference between Derek Dorsett being able to suit up for Game One rather than having to miss a few games. It should also allow him to get a few practices with the team before he plays his first game on Garden ice. Don't forget about Marc Staal who can use the time to continue to see if he's prepared to play for the first time since his horrific eye injury. I don't really expect Staal to play again this year - mainly because those types of injuries are SO sensitive - but the extra days help for sure.

And what about the team in general? The Rangers roared to a 10-3-1 finish in April, 9-3-1 post trade deadline. They can use a day or two off to appreciate what they've accomplished and mentally prepare for what's next. These days off should be used to work on the power play. These days off should be getting the defense to watch film for hour after hour about the Washington Capitals' power play - and Alexander Ovechkin in general.

Most importantly, the days off should be used to focus. This is the playoffs. This is what it's all about. You can't let these opportunities slip away. The time off should help the Rangers prepare to get to the next level.

That is, if they're not there already.

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