TAMPA, Fla. — After a week and a half of waiting, the Tampa Bay Lightning will face the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final.
But, was so much rest a good thing for a hot Lightning team that is riding a six-game winning streak?
That brings us to the debate: Rest vs. Rust.
For the beat-up group the coach Jon Cooper has, the rest is much-needed.
“The one thing about rest is you get rest,” Cooper said. “So you get to re-charge the batteries. Maybe the negative part is you’ve been out of the fight for a little bit so now you got to get yourself back into it.”
The Lightning are bruised after blocking 77 shots in their four-game series sweep against the Florida Panthers. Most notable among the injured is star center Brayden Point, who was hurt in Game 7 in the first round and missed the entire second round.
“But if there was any year we could have used this break, this was the year,” Cooper said.
This series will be a battle of goaltenders. Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy and fellow Russian, Igor Shesterkin are both at the top of their games right now.
“He’s been great in a lot of high-pressure situations, just like Vasilevskiy,” Lightning forward Alex Killorn said. “But when you can’t see the puck, it makes it a lot more difficult. We’re going to try to do that.”
“If it’s going to be a low-scoring series, it’s going to be a low-scoring series,” captain Steven Stamkos added. “We’re totally fine with that. If you have two elite goaltenders and two teams willing to defend, so be it.”
Game one is set for 8 p.m. Wednesday inside Madison Square Garden.