When it comes to the high intensity of the NHL Playoffs, some teams prefer a shorter break between series to preserve the momentum gained from the previous round's victory.
And after the Islanders swept the Penguins in four games during the first round, the team has not played for a week now. They won't take the ice anytime soon, either, as they await the winner of the Carolina-Washington series. That bout will be decided Wednesday night in a decisive Game 7.
As such, the Islanders won't begin the second round until Friday at the earliest. Ultimately, they'll have enjoyed a 10-day layoff. It was time well spent for the team, too, as it gave key players ample time to nurse lingering injuries and for everyone to at least recharge the batteries.
Cal Clutterbuck's likely would not have played in the first round had the series gone past seven games. He left Game 4 with an undisclosed injury, but now that he's had a week off, he should be at full strength by Friday.
"You can look at it from both sides," Clutterbuck told reporters regarding the momentum versus time off debate. "Our choice is to look at it from the positive side, and that's - myself especially - I was able to get a couple days that, had we not had the time, probably would have resulted in some lost [playing] time. I'm just taking it a day at a time here. Felt good enough [Monday] to go practice with the guys, I felt pretty good out there. That's where I'm at right now."
At this point in the hockey season, everyone is banged up one way or another. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk will be out 3-4 weeks with a lower-body injury and will definitely miss the conference semifinals.
An extended absence for Clutterbuck could have been problematic for the Islanders, though. He's an established member of a key forward line with Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas, as well as an asset on both the power play and penalty kill.
Barry Trotz knows the Islanders are simply better with the right-winger on the ice.
"I just think that when Clutter is not there, you notice. He's such a useful player, the Islanders coach said. "There are so many layers to his game that when you look at the stats [eight goals, 23 points in 73 regular-season games], you go, 'Eh, I don't know.' But there is more importance to his overall contribution and there are a lot of those areas where there are not a lot of stats. He's a valuable guy for us, no question."
Scott Mayfield is also back at practice for the Islanders.