LYNNWOOD — If it seems like the Everett Silvertips haven’t played a game for a while it’s because they haven’t.
The Tips swept Portland in their first-round playoff series that ended last week Wednesday, and Everett’s Western Conference semifinal series doesn’t start until Friday against the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent.
It was Everett’s first four-game playoff sweep since 2004, so a long break between rounds is not something with which the players and coaches are familiar.
“This doesn’t happen in hockey so I can’t give you any insight into what’s right or wrong — it’s unusual,” Everett head coach Kevin Constantine said. “I’ve coached 30 years so has it happened once or twice? Maybe, but you don’t learn something doing it once. You learn something by doing it a hundred times and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work.”
The Tips took a couple of days off following their sweep — save for Wednesday’s scratches who skated briefly on Friday. The team resumed regular workouts during the weekend. There was no practice Monday, but the team was back at it Tuesday at the Lynnwood Ice Center as Xfinity Arena is playing host to the Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships this weekend.
“I think it’s important that you stay into it,” said Everett forward Patrick Bajkov. “It was good to get the series done early. That helped for sure and maybe we could take a little bit of time off mentally. But we wanted to get back into it right away so we’re feeling good about that.”
If anything the long break calls to mind the beginning of the season when the Tips had the lightest game schedule in the league, often going a week between contests. Of course that trend flipped in the second half as Everett played one of the heaviest schedules in the league, often with three and sometimes four games in a given week.
“It’s definitely like the start of the year by having a couple days off and getting back to practice and working on the things we need to work on before we play Seattle,” Tips forward Matt Fonteyne said. “Since we both swept the first series we’re both at the same rest and have the same practice (schedule). I think going into the series we’ll be dead even that way.”
The U.S. Division-champion Thunderbirds knocked off the Prince George Cougars in four games, so they too will be rested when the next round commences at ShoWare Center on Friday.
The close proximity between Everett and Seattle makes travel much easier for players and fans, and is probably just the type of postseason matchup the organizations hoped would occur when Everett joined the league for the 2003-04 season.
However, the Tips and T-Birds don’t have much postseason history. In fact, this will only be the second time the teams have met in the playoffs and the first time since Seattle beat Everett 4-1 in a first-round matchup in 2014.
The series is scheduled to go longer than either team’s first-round matchup. The teams will square off Friday and Sunday in Kent then play next week Wednesday and Friday in Everett. If necessary, the series would continue Saturday in Kent, Monday in Everett and Tuesday in Kent.
Seattle represents a familiar opponent for Everett. The Tips and T-Birds played each another 10 times during the regular season with Everett finishing 6-2-1-1 and Seattle claiming a 4-6 mark.
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