For hockey players a game-day routine is a set of rituals that prepare them both mentally and physically for the game ahead. For the Blue Jackets, however, that routine will face a major shake-up this Saturday as the club will have an unusual 2 p.m. start time against the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationwide. The game is scheduled to start earlier than usual to accommodate the Blackhawks, who have a nationally televised game Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET.
I think the night before you start to get prepared and when you wake up you have to be ready to play. - LW Kristian Huselius
A normal game-day routine for the Blue Jackets involves eating breakfast before getting to the Arena for the 10 a.m. meeting and morning skate. After practice, players will make sure their stick and the rest of their gear is ready to use for later that night. Players then often eat lunch and take a pre-game nap before they have to be back to the rink at 4:45 p.m.
"It's nice to have the same pattern all the time," left-wing Kristian Huselius said. "The body physically gets ready for the game, and mentally ready too. It's nice to have a routine, obviously, because we play a lot of games. We have to do it all a little bit earlier when we have an early game like (Saturday)."
With the game starting five hours earlier than normal on Saturday, the Blue Jackets will not have their usual morning skate or mid-afternoon off time. Instead they will get to the rink, warm-up, and have to be ready to play right away.
"You've got to be ready right away," Huselius said. "I think the night before you start to get prepared and when you wake up you have to be ready to play."
Two key elements of their game-day routine that Blue Jackets players will forgo Saturday will be their after practice lunch and their afternoon nap, two important sources of energy for Jackets players when the puck drops. As a result, the Jackets are taking extra efforts to make sure they prepare properly.
"The biggest thing is managing your food," defenseman Mike Commodore said. "Make sure you get up in the morning and eat a little bit. If most people get up and eat by nine, try and get something in you five hours before the game, you should be fine."
"It's going to be a test,” added right wing Jakub Voracek. "I don't think we've played at two o'clock since I've been here, but it's a hockey game, you've got to be ready."
While pre-game naps can be good for resting the body and providing energy, they can be equally important in providing the mind a mental rest to prepare for the game.
"It's a long day just sitting around because you have the game in your head basically all day," said left wing Fredrik Modin. "It's nice to kill a few hours and get some rest. I think it's more rest for your mind than anything else."
Luckily for the Jackets, this is the only afternoon game they will play all season, and their first since January of 2008.