Bylsma: Playing Playoff Hockey is Less Stressful Than Waiting for It

Vince Carbonneau
June 19, 2024  (6:35 PM)

Dan Bylsma coaching
Photo credit: Charlotte Checkers

New Seattle Kraken coach Dan Bylsma has learned a crucial lesson: Playoff action is preferable to the downtime between games.

After the Coachella Valley Firebirds wrapped up their regular season, they faced extended breaks between playoff series due to a combination of factors.
Winning the Western Division granted the Seattle Kraken's farm team a bye into the second round, which turned out to be both a blessing and a challenge.
"Against Calgary in the second round, it took us nearly a game and a half to find our rhythm," Bylsma admitted. In Game 1, the Calgary Wranglers handed the Firebirds one of their rare postseason losses.
The Firebirds bounced back to win the next three games and advance, followed by a sweep of the Ontario Reign. "We managed the second series better," Bylsma noted. However, another layoff awaited before the Western Conference Finals against Milwaukee.
"It's been disconcerting," Bylsma said. "We've had breaks of 11 days, 9 days, 7 days, and 6 days. Deciding what to do with the team during these breaks—when to practice, how much to practice, and the intensity of practice—has been a challenge."
For those who assume coaches have a plan for every scenario, the reality is different. "There's no definitive answer. You try various approaches and observe the outcomes."
The approach worked against the Admirals, resulting in a five-game series victory. With Hershey taking seven games to clinch the Eastern Conference, the Firebirds faced another layoff. The time between three road games in Milwaukee and waiting for Game 1 in Hershey kept them away from home for over two weeks.
"Sitting in Hershey for six days watching them play Games 6 and 7 against Cleveland felt much longer than the initial 11-day break," Bylsma remarked.
Despite the downtime, Coachella managed to secure a road split against the Bears and then won Game 3 at home.
With a 2-1 series lead and just two wins away from a Calder Cup, the best news is that all remaining games are scheduled two days apart, minimizing further lengthy breaks.
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Bylsma: Playing Playoff Hockey is Less Stressful Than Waiting for It

Do you think extended breaks between playoff games affect a team's performance?

Yes1178.6 %
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