There’s the train of thought that the Kings have established a healthy rhythm by playing every other day or every two days in establishing what Dustin Brown referred to as “Zombie Mode” in their run to grabbing a two-nothing lead in the Stanley Cup Final.
And then there’s the reality that they’ve played 23 playoff games in 54 days since opening the postseason on April 17.
Tomorrow’s Game 3 will be the 112th game day of the season, which counts the split squad games against Phoenix on September 15 as one day. Slava Voynov has played in the maximum 111 games to this point – not counting his five games at the Winter Olympics, for added measure – while lazy rock piles Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards have played only 110 games. Justin Williams, who played in 82 regular season and 23 playoff games, has appeared in 109 total games since mid-September.
The total may as well come with an asterisk. By virtue of last night’s 30-plus minutes of overtime, the Kings have played a total of 75:33 of overtime this postseason. That’s an additional game and three-quarters of another period.
So, uh, guys, is fatigue becoming a concern at all?
“I think the longer series go, the longer the playoffs go, courage, determination, extra effort [are factors],” Darryl Sutter said. “You’re never going to feel fresh. You’re never going to feel as good as you did in November. That’s the way it works. That’s for sure. They’re people.”
Dwight King mentioned that days off are important, and that managing sleep, detaching oneself from the game and relaxing are necessary to combat the mental aspect of the extended grind.
“As far as prepping for games, everybody has been in the situation long enough, they know what they need to bring for our team to be successful,” King said.
He didn’t sleep on the flight east, though he may have been one of the outliers.
“Guys are getting their rest,” Williams said. “It was an early game [yesterday]. We got to bed at a decent hour. You should have seen the plane ride over here. It was all lights out. Guys were sleeping. We’ll be fine. It’s the Cup Final. No excuse for not being ready, not being prepared, being too tired. You can get yourself ready.”
Whether it’s related to the team’s lengthy schedule or not, it’s an interesting note that the Kings appear to be playing their best hockey later in games. Los Angeles has been outscored 25-24 in first periods this postseason but has outscored its opponents 57-41 in the second period and beyond.
Darryl Sutter, on overtime becoming a regular occurrence:
Three in a row. A lot of hockey. There’s always lots of talk about depth and those things. Somebody is on a little bit of a roll or not. They’ll talk about having depth, not having depth. Depth only matters when you win. You need depth when you get to overtime games and games after overtime games. We’ve managed to do that. We’ve moved guys around. Obviously guys get banged up and things like that. But that is your biggest issue always in a series. It’s not just playing guys, it’s getting the quality, getting good minutes out of them.
Marian Gaborik, on the frequent overtime during the longest playoff run of his career:
I played some overtime, long overtime before. But obviously three in a row, that’s pretty tough. We’re all in this together. We have to correct a lot of things in our game. It’s tough sport to begin with. To play this many periods the last three games, it’s a lot of hockey. But, you know, everyone is going to find energy tomorrow and we’ll be ready to go.