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Rest vs. Rust: Does history side with the Boston Bruins?

It’s been a long layoff. Is that necessarily a problem?

Boston Bruins v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Four Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Ah yes, the question that pops up at some point seemingly each and every NHL postseason: the ol’ debate between rest and rust. This year, however, has been more extreme than any other in recent history.

By the time the 2019 Stanley Cup Final starts, the Boston Bruins will have had an astounding 10 full days off, while their opponent, the St. Louis Blues, will have had a more comfortable 5 days off.

That’s a fairly large difference.

So will that extra downtime serve to the Bruins benefit? Or will it be the increasingly battle-tested Blues who gain the advantage?

Let’s see what history says.

Edmonton Oilers vs. Carolina Hurricanes (2006) - Oilers had 8 days off, Hurricanes had 3 days off

Hurricanes won series 4-3

The latest example of a wide discrepancy in time off doesn’t favor Boston’s position. The Oilers, who disposed of the Anaheim Ducks in 5 games, waited on the Canes, who took the full 7 games to defeat the Buffalo Sabres.

The Oilers lost 3 of the series’ first 4 games, showing signs of being a little too well rested early in the series.

Mighty Ducks of Anaheim vs. New Jersey Devils (2003) - Mighty Ducks had 10 days off, Devils had 3 days off

Devils won series 4-3

This is the most extreme example of time off being pinned up against continuous competition in the history of the Stanley Cup Final. And once again, the team with less time off prevailed.

New Jersey won the first 2 games of this series at home while Anaheim didn’t register a single goal. Mind you, the Mighty Ducks were going up against Martin Brodeur in his prime, so that’s worth taking into consideration.

Buffalo Sabres vs. Dallas Stars 1999 - Sabres had 7 days off, Stars had 3 days off

Stars won series 4-2

Although the Stars won the series as a result of the the infamous ‘No Goal’ Game, they didn’t get off to a hot start.

It was the Sabres who took Game 1 from Dallas, but that proved to be Buffalo’s first and only series lead. The more refreshed squad from Western New York never could get the Stars on the ropes after that first game..

Montreal Canadiens vs. Los Angeles Kings (1993) - Canadiens had 7 days off, Kings had 2 days off

Canadiens won series 4-1

And here we have the first example of history siding with Boston...and of course, it’s Montreal.

After being pushed to 7 games by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Kings had just a pair of days off before jumping into the Stanley Cup Final against the Canadiens.

Once again though, it was the fresher team that faltered in Game 1. Montreal was beaten handily by a score of 4-1 in the series opener, but the Habs bounced back exceedingly well, needing only 5 games to knock off L.A.

Montreal Canadiens vs. Calgary Flames (1986) - Canadiens had 7 days off, Flames had 1 day off

Canadiens won series 4-1

If you thought the 1993 Kings got a raw deal having to battle the Canadiens on just two days of rest, the 1986 Flames would like to have your attention.

Much like L.A., Calgary took Game 1, but that would be all. The Habs once again handled their Cup competition in just 5 matches.

Edmonton Oilers vs. New York Islanders 1984 - Oilers had 8 days off, Islanders had 4 days off

Oilers won series 4-1

This situation mirrors most closely the one the Bruins find themselves in against the Blues. Similarly to 2019’s setup between Boston and St. Louis, the Oilers had double the amount of rest of the Islanders.

The comparisons really start and end there though, as this Cup Final was a rematch from the year previous where New York swept the up-and-coming Oilers. 1984 marked a changing of the guard as the ascending Edmonton squad led by Wayne Gretzky overcame the veteran Islanders in a convincing series win.

When the puck drops on Monday for the Stanley Cup Final, both the Blues and Bruins will have had ample time to recover from Round 3.

However, Boston will have a significantly longer layoff than its opponents. Since the introduction of the NHL’s Conference Finals format in 1982, history has shown that teams who are granted 4+ days of rest more than their opponent are just as likely to win as they are to lose the Stanley Cup.