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Does rest give the Islanders an advantage against the Hurricanes?

April 25, 2019, 10:32 AM ET [275 Comments]
Ben Shelley
New York Islanders Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The New York Islanders will enter their second round series much more rested than Carolina, after the Hurricanes’ Game 7 double overtime win. There’s often a debate whether you want to play as the fresh, rested team or as the one coming into the series hot after a big win. So do the Islanders have an advantage coming into the series after their time off?

There are several series matchups over the course of the last decade where one team was coming in more rested than the other. For examples where teams were more rested than others, we looked at a split where one team had played at least two fewer games in the previous series than the other.

Generally speaking, since 2011-12, the team that gets more rest ahead of their matchup wins the series. Of the last nine matchups where a team came in more rested than the others, the team that played two games or less than the other in the previous round won seven of nine. That being said, of the eight times a team was ranked higher than another, the higher ranked team won seven of the eight matchups. So maybe this had something to do with the rest factor but it also could have been just the better team winning. Maybe a mixture of both?

Last year, the scenario was seen twice. In the first round of 2018, Toronto took Boston to Game 7, while Tampa Bay eliminated New Jersey in just five games. In the second round, the Lightning made quick work of the Bruins in just five games. However in the Stanley Cup Final the reverse happened, where Washington was coming off a seven game series against the Lightning and beat a Vegas team who were coming off of a five-game Conference Final series.

As we go back a little further though, we start to see that more rest doesn’t necessarily give a team an advantage. Of the six scenarios between 2008-09 and 2010-11, the less rested team won five of them and the underdog also won four of the six. If this shows anything, it’s that more rest, at least in recent history, has had no impact on the result of a series. In fact, in the one series since 2008-09 which featured a first place team coming off a sweep and lower seed team coming off a Game 7 win, the lower seeded, non-rested team won the series. That non-rested team happened to be Carolina.

So though common sense would dictate that rest should help, it’s really up in the air as to whether one team has any sort of advantage heading into the second round on a basis of rest or momentum. That being said, it’s sure to be a fresh and exciting matchup.

A preview for the series and Game 1 will be out tomorrow.

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