PHILADELPHIA -- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers once sang about it and the Philadelphia Flyers now are experiencing it -- the waiting really is the hardest part.
The Flyers, who Tuesday went through their most intense on-ice workout since eliminating the New Jersey Devils in five games last week, now know their second-round opponent will be the top-seeded Washington Capitals or the sixth-seeded Boston Bruins.
They'll be able to fill in the blank Wednesday night following five full days of rest after the Capitals host to the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchup at Verizon Center. The Flyers will travel to Washington if the Capitals are victorious or Boston if the Canadiens pull the upset.
At this point, it makes no difference.
"You have to use it wisely. You got to still put the time and effort and make sure you're staying sharp and when you're not here, that you're getting your rest. You have to continue to prepare and rest the bumps and bruises to make sure you're 100 percent the next round." -- Chris Pronger on time off
Flyers forward Danny Briere, a veteran of seven playoff seasons, never has had this long to recuperate between rounds.
"This is the first time I've had to wait this long," he said. "I've had to wait 2-3 days between rounds, but this has been a week. I'm a fan and enjoy watching the playoffs, but usually I have a hard time watching once I get kicked out. This has been fun knowing you're still in it so you're watching to see who you're going to play, I've enjoyed it."
Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger knows so long as the team puts in the effort on and off the ice during the layoff, it shouldn't matter when the next round begins.
"You have to use it wisely," Pronger said. "You got to still put the time and effort and make sure you're staying sharp and when you're not here, that you're getting your rest. You have to continue to prepare and rest the bumps and bruises to make sure you're 100 percent the next round."
Briere admitted surprise that the Canadiens battled back in their series with the Capitals.
"I'm a little surprised," he said. "When they (the Capitals) were up, 3-1, I didn't expect Montreal to bounce back and win the next two games, but it does make it exciting and fun to watch. It's good hockey and the fans love it."
Pronger praised the Bruins after their knockout of the Buffalo Sabres in six games.
"They're obviously playing well," Pronger said. "Their goaltender (Tuukka Rask) is playing at a high level and playing much like (Montreal's Jaroslav) Halak. He's stopping everything and is very square to the puck. He's not sliding all over in there and very methodical in the net. They've done a good job clearing the front of the net, are getting timely goal scoring and capitalizing on their chances."
Boucher compares the layoff to life as a backup goalie.
"When you know you're going to be off a week or two between starts, it's important in practice to try and get your work in," Boucher said. "The only difference now is we don't know who to prepare for so it doesn't change things but it is a little weird. At the same time, the coaches are pushing us and that's what their job is. They try and come up with a game plan in practice to make sure we get the work in that we need and that's what we've been doing so far."
Indeed. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette ran his team through a full morning skate at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J.
"We considered having a scrimmage with referees (Tuesday), the whole nine yards," Laviolette said. "But it got to a point where we just didn't want to risk (injury). After some conversation, we thought it better off staying with our regular practice. We'll put some specialty teams scrimmage together either Wednesday or Thursday, but when we're doing five-on-five, we'll keep it more situational rather than breaking it down in a scrimmage."
Laviolette admitted that if his team does face the Capitals, they'll be riding an emotional high coming off a Game 7 victory on home ice.
"No question you come off a high after a Game 7 victory and there's so much buildup to a Game 7 that there's the possibility of a drop in the first game of the next series, but there's been so many times I've seen it go either way," Laviolette said. "You just don't know. We're going to have to be ready and whoever we play is going to have to play well in Game 1. You have to be ready to play, and if not you probably won't like the result, so whoever has that Game 7, you have to make sure you're ready for Game 1."
Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube admitted a sense of disappointment knowing he'd have to wait another day to learn the opponent.
"A little bit," Berube told NHL.com. "It's frustrating just waiting around. It's good in one aspect because you can get some rest and get some injuries healed but, on the other hand, you want to play and don't want to be off too long. We want to stay sharp, so it's a little frustrating in that regard."
Pronger, though, believes the coaching staff has done a fine job keeping the players confident and in a good frame of mind.
"We're preparing and practicing like winners do," Pronger said. "We're at a high tempo, crisp, executing very well. You see wave after wave of drills and that's the way we need to play to be effective. We need wave after wave of forecheck, backcheck and breakouts and it needs to be line after line. That's the way we're practicing right now."
Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org