BOSTON -- In a series that opened with the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup Final history followed by a Game 2 that ended with a paltry 13:48 of extra time, both the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins have been forced to utilize any and every moment to rest and recharge heading into Game 3 Monday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
For the Bruins, who boarded an early flight the morning after their 2-1 overtime victory in Game 2, that meant a quiet plane ride back to Boston before enjoying a nap in their own beds after opening the series in Chicago.
"We flew out this morning. Everyone was sleeping. It was an early flight," said Tyler Seguin, who set up Daniel Paille's OT winner 13:48 into overtime Saturday night. "It's a great feeling. We all felt it last night. That being said, it's a new day today. I'm looking forward to going to nap in my own bed today and relax and get ready to play at home."
Every Stanley Cup Final is an exhausting march towards the finish line, with both teams completely drained by the time a champion is crowned. Just two games into the series, that may have never been truer than this year, which has seen Boston and Chicago play almost 10 complete periods in their first two matchups. For the Blackhawks, who required a series-clinching double-overtime goal from Patrick Kane in Game 5 against the Los Angeles Kings just to get here, rest has been a vitally important asset.
Chicago's marathon mentality of late may be best exemplified by the play of defenseman Duncan Keith, who has logged an incredible 121:01 of ice time in his past three games. That adds up to more than two full regulation games played all by himself. With 40:12 played in Game 5 against L.A followed by 48:40 in Game 1 against Boston, Keith became the first player to log more than 40 minutes in consecutive postseason games since Richard Matvichuk of the Dallas Stars accomplished the feat in the 2000 Stanley Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils.
Considering the minutes a number of players have seen so far this series, the battle against fatigue could prove just as important as the battle against the other team.
"I think as players, we've gone through things like that before. It's just about getting your rest," said Keith, who has logged an astounding 80:49 of ice time in this series to lead all players. "It's not rocket science. You just need to get sleep and eat the best you can. Do all those little things to help prepare so you feel good and ready to go."
The Bruins earned some time to rest before the Final by sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final. But they've also competed in seven overtime games this postseason, more than any other team. And as these playoff games transition from evening into early morning, players have begun to feel the toll of those lengthy battles.
"I think everyone's a little tired. Three overtimes last game and then going into another overtime," Paille said. "The guys took some rest on the plane, I think it's definitely needed this time. We had another late night. That's going to be important for us, getting rest."
After starting the series with two marathon matchups, players don't need to be encouraged to grab some shuteye whenever the opportunity presents itself. But staff members from both teams are also looking to help players retain their energy, both during and between games.
"That's where your trainers come in. They do everything they can, whether it's drying equipment, whether it's making sure they've got the energy. There's always stuff in the dressing room to help you out; fruits, all kinds of stuff. All teams are well-prepared for that," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "My speeches between overtime periods last a minute, minute and a half. It's more about getting their rest, making sure they're excited about going out there and trying to win it."
And whomever wins it can worry about the exhaustion later.
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