So, who has the advantage in the Eastern Conference semifinals that begin Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center?
Is it the Flyers, who have been idle since beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs on April 22?
Or is the New Jersey Devils, who on Thursday (early Friday, actually) beat Florida in Game 7 of their first-round series.
The Flyers have had a chance to rest, which was not unwelcomed, given the intensity of the Pittsburgh series, and every team at this point in the season has some healing to do.
But the Devils are playing with some momentum. That also has certain advantages.
"There are arguments on both sides," Flyers right wing Danny Briere said, as he and his teammates prepared for the Devils on Friday at their practice facility in Voorhees. "Some people would say that it is better to just keep playing and stay in the groove. But we had a physical series against Pittsburgh, so I would have to say that the rest was crucial for us."
Right wing Jaromir Jagr echoed that.
"There are advantages and disadvantages," he said. "The advantage on our side is that we are rested, while they may be tired."
Until it was sorted out in the wee hours of Friday morning, it was unclear not only whom the Flyers would play in the Eastern Conference semifinals but whether they would have home-ice advantage. Briere pointed out it was "weird going for so long without knowing who we would play and with the possibility of so many different opponents." He and his teammates watched the New York Rangers top Ottawa and New Jersey stop Florida in Game 7 showdowns Thursday night.
Left wing Scott Hartnell said "the games were exciting."
"I think everyone who has hockey in their blood was watching those games," he said.
So how do the Flyers think the series against the Devils will shape up?
They do not expect it to be the high-scoring affair like the Penguins series.
"Against a team like the Devils, you have to be very patient," Briere said. "They are a team that likes to slow the game down."
Briere said the Devils do not take chances.
"They play very tight defensively," he said. "And they like to frustrate you."
Right wing Wayne Simmonds agreed that the key against the Devils is patience.
"Against Pittsburgh, we had a lot of scoring opportunities," said Simmonds, who was second to Claude Giroux on the team in goals scored against the Devils this season, with three. "New Jersey limits the offensive chances against them. And Martin Brodeur is still in goal for them."
Hartnell added: "The Devils have a lot of skill. Their top line can score. And their power play is dangerous."
Hartnell said the key to beating them will be "to play defense and to keep going to the power play and scoring goals."
One advantage for the Flyers is that goalie Ilya Bryzgalov played exceptionally well against the Devils this season, with a 3-0 record, 0.29 goals-against average and .987 save percentage. Briere called that "reassuring."
"Matchups are very key in the playoffs," Briere said. "So it is a positive if your goalie feels good against a certain team."
Giroux said he and his teammates have "a lot of confidence in Bryz."
"He is a veteran and he knows what he is doing out there," Giroux said. "We have to do a better job in front of him."
Coach Peter Laviolette downplayed the 21 goals Bryzgalov allowed in the Pittsburgh series.
"He had played well for a few months now," Laviolette said. "Our first-round opponent is one of the more dangerous scoring teams in the league. Everyone on our team had confidence in [Bryzgalov]."
Laviolette said he expects no surprises from the division rival Devils. Nor does he expect the rivalry to be any more intense than it would be against any other team the Flyers played so frequently.
"You can take the Rangers, Devils, Penguins and Flyers and threw them into a blender and take any two out," Laviolette said. "They have been around a long time. Often, it leads to great hockey."
Hartnell added, "It was good to have a few days off. Some of the guys were banged up. But now we have to get amped up."
Contact Mark Kram at firstname.lastname@example.org.