Ever since Dustin Brown tipped Willie Mitchell’s shot past Henrik Lundqvist in double overtime of Game 2, fatigue has been discussed thoroughly with Darryl Sutter and the players on a team that will play its 24th game of the playoffs tonight. The topic was raised again as Slava Voynov and Alec Martinez spoke with the media after the team’s morning skate.
“I feel great. Marty’s tired,” Voynov said.
Did the five-hour flight east help Martinez catch up on sleep?
“Marty usually sleeps all the time,” Voynov joked, which drew a strong rebuttal from Martinez.
The larger laughs came from Mitchell, who noted that “there were a couple of us spooning” on the plane. For the uninitiated, he was referring to this:
“But you have to get [rest] when you can,” Mitchell continued. “Sometimes when you switch West Coast to East Coast everyone has done that, that bed. You guys do it all the time, too. Your sleep schedule kind of gets messed up. I’m just a big believer in ‘take it when you can get it’ because sometimes you get here and for some reason you can’t sleep at night, so if you can get two or three hours on a flight out East, then grab it then. That was kind of the case. I’m sure the Rangers are doing the same thing.”
Tonight’s game is the Kings’ first in the Eastern Time Zone since a 3-2 win at Pittsburgh on March 27.
“It’s a quick turnaround,” Mitchell said. “You have that game that goes into OT and anyone after a game the earliest you get to bed is probably 1:00 or 1:30 in the morning. Then the flight at 9:00, so you’re up at 7:30 and you’re on six hours of sleep. Then usually after an exhausting game going into overtime, try to grab some when I can, and my teammates are doing the same thing.”
On playing in Madison Square Garden:
The Bell is pretty special, Toronto just because it’s Toronto, and Madison Square. We’re looking forward to an electric atmosphere and just playing in an iconic building that has had so many great kind of events in history go on in it. I’m looking forward to maybe creating a few more.
On whether he feels fatigued from the overtime games:
No, I don’t buy it. It’s just kind of the rhythm of a playoffs is a rule like in the middle of the season where as a team you’re feeling really good and somewhere maybe you’re not as good. But you still find ways and we’ve done that. I’m pretty excited that we’re still trying to find our level, what we feel we’re capable of and we’ll look for a better effort tonight.
On Justin William’s performance in the playoffs:
I think early on in his career he had some success in the playoffs. When you have that, you have a confidence within and a belief. And he has a belief that he can make a difference every time he’s on the ice because he did that earlier in his career too. Our coach would say ‘heck with confidence,’ right? But I think confidence is a big game thing in this game. The parity between the players, everyone’s skill, everyone has had success at every level to get here and then he has a passion for the game. He loves this time of year. If you have a passion for the game and love this time of year then you raise for the challenge.
On the physical and mental toll the playoffs have taken on him:
I got a little breather in the second round, right? There are no excuses for me. I don’t know. I think you have a day at the end of the series to kind of reload and get your thoughts and collect your thoughts about the thing you accomplished, beating a great opponent. You kind of have that day and then the next day you look up and your focus and preparation is on the next team. I don’t put much stock into it, not this time of year. You’re so full on adrenaline this time of year that no one is tired.