Slava Voynov has played a lot of hockey this season. Including the preseason, regular season, Olympics and playoffs, tonight will be the 117th game he has played. That’s 117 game day skates, roughly half of which included a plane flight or enduring 405 South traffic on a bus towards Anaheim.
“I think it’s my longest season ever,” he said. “It’s not a big deal for me. Just try to play as many games as I can.”
While there are others who are close to Voynov’s model of consistency, they don’t match his minutes. Anze Kopitar, who has played one game fewer than Voynov, averaged 20:53 of ice time in the regular season. Mike Richards and Justin Williams, who have logged a similar amount of action, averaged a shade under 17 minutes of ice time per game.
And then there’s Voynov, whose ice time average of 22:18 has increased to 22:49 in the playoffs. He’s also starting a disproportionate amount of shifts in the defensive zone. His 46.9% offensive zone start percentage is right there with defensive partner Willie Mitchell as the team’s most defensive zone-gravitated grouping in the playoffs. But despite the defensive zone starts and the generally sturdy quality of competition, and despite the inclination that some Kings fans may have that the quality of his play may have dipped from previous postseasons, his Corsi-for percentage is still at 49.9%, which isn’t poor considering the circumstances stemming from the origins of his shifts.
“It just tells you he’s a young, durable guy and he’s got that low center of gravity so it kind of keeps him out of trouble,” Mitchell said. “He’s a good hockey player for us. Logs a lot of minutes. We’re lucky to have him, and hopefully he logs a couple more good ones.”
While his point accumulation isn’t registering at the same rate as it was last spring, he’s also not benefiting from a completely unsustainable-for-a-defenseman 17.6% shooting percentage, which is more than three times his 2014 percentage.
But back to the minutes. Voynov isn’t generally one to skip out on an optional practice, and he’s always out there for morning skates.
“On game days, it takes more energy. If I take a morning skate, I feel better in the game,” he said.
Voynov also logged mileage – as in literal air mileage – en route to the 2012 Stanley Cup. The right-shooting defenseman did not make the team out of training camp and enjoyed three stints with the club and appeared in 15 of his 266 total games with the Manchester Monarchs that season before appearing in all 20 playoff games.
“I got a good experience in 2012. For me, I think about it every day,” he said.
Does he try to take his mind of hockey while away from the rink?
“Today, I try to think about my family, my friends, and when I step into the rink, I start thinking about hockey,” he said.
The time away may help clear the mind, if not the odometer.