When the games start getting important, without a doubt at some point the "momentum versus rest" debate will take place. The guy on the right side of your screen will argue that the season is long and tiring, and the players could use the rest. Of course the guy on the left of your screen will disagree and argue that the extended break will halt the teams momentum. More than anything this disagreement takes place because ESPN, along with CNN and about a hundred other media outlets, are obsessed with a good ol' polarized spitting contest. God forbid two human beings agree with each other because that isn't "good television".
So what does this all mean to me? Absolutely frigging nothing. Well, that is until my Pittsburgh Penguins swept the Ottawa Senators in the opening round of the NHL playoffs and faced at least a week long break. Personally agreeing more with the guy on the right side of the TV screen, I welcomed the break. The players could use it. Gary Roberts missed games 3 and 4 with a tweaked groin injury. Sidney Crosby missed an extended period of time in the later part of the season with a high ankle sprain, and secretly we all know he isn't 100%. And the everyone else could use the break, right? Surely some time off wouldn't hurt us in round 2.
Looking for some numbers to back me up I turned to recent NHL playoff past. And, well, it wasn't exactly reassuring.
In the last 10 NHL post seasons there have been 17 sweeps. And throwing out the Red Wings sweep of the Capitals in the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals, the sweeping teams have had a woeful 6-10 record. In fact since the lockout 3 years ago all 3 teams who have swept a series fell in the following round.
Maybe that guy on the left side of the screen had some valid points.
It's not all gloom and doom though. Of the 6 teams that won the round after their sweep, all of them made it to the Stanley Cup finals, and 4 of them took home the Cup.