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Flight plans: How the Coyotes pass time and prepare in the sky

The team will travel roughly 7,000 miles through the air over the next 11 days

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

During their recent 10-day road trip through New York, Long Island, New Jersey and Buffalo, the Coyotes spent 11 hours in the air.

That's a lot of frequent flyer miles - roughly 4,300, on that trip.

"When you get into those 4-5 hour long flights you're trying to do whatever you can to pass the time," said Lawson Crouse , who noted that a lot of 'clock-watching' is involved.

While professional sports can be glamorous, 41 road games and 30 away cities on an NHL schedule can mean trying to find ways to fight flight boredom.

The Coyotes' current travel to Edmonton and Calgary isn't horribly numbing, the excursion still will require three flights, 2,700 miles and about seven hours in the air.

So, how do the Coyotes survive?

"Some guys like to sleep, some guys watch Netflix, some guys just talk; usually there's some fun card games but nothing too serious," Crouse said.

Antti Raanta takes it easy, as long as there's no turbulence involved. The Finnish goaltender stays loose with TV shows and movies.

"Something easy for me," he said. "I'll watch 'The Office', and I'm a big 'Family Guy' guy, so it's that or 'American Dad'."

When the winds make things a bit uncomfortable, Raanta turns to podcasts, audiobooks, or he'll distract himself with games on his phone.

"I used to love flying but I'm not the biggest fan anymore. It's getting used to the turbulence and everything else. Sometimes it's really bad, and if so, I just try to sit down and listen to some calming things. Or sometimes I'll play Candy Crush."

Jakob Chychrun finds diversion in card games. He plays a Russian game 'Durak' with teammates Nick Schmaltz , Conor Garland , and Clayton Keller ; they're one of the four different card groups assembled on any given flight.

"Some of the boys play board games, so we've got a bunch of action going on," Chychrun said. The plane rides are fun for us, we just all hang out and play some music and play some cards, it's a good time."

"You hear [Fischer] yelling all the time, we just shake our heads," Chychrun said. "He and Jason [Demers], those two like to be the loud ones, you're always hearing them yelling."

And the quiet ones?

"The Swedes usually sleep," Chychrun said.

Noted nap specialist Oliver Ekman-Larsson confirmed that.

"I sleep a lot, I'm pretty good at that. I just sit there. I don't really read or have any TV shows that I watch. I just sit, think and sleep a lot."

"You have to get a good rest, we travel a lot and it's hard to get sleep when you're going into different time zones, so when I get a chance, I just like to shut it down. Even when I'm back home I like to take naps; I have a lot of napping."

Flight time also can be used for study. Provided with iPads, players can track details from the game they've just played or scout an opponent. On the longer flights, Ekman-Larsson usually dedicates 25 minutes to reviewing video.

No matter the entertainment or diversion, flight time provides time to recover, especially in back-to-back situations, which the Coyotes will face following Monday night's game in Edmonton. Immediately after that game, they'll hop aboard a quick flight to Calgary.

"Usually for flights after the games, especially back-to-backs, you don't have much time to get all of the normal fluids in, sometimes you don't have the time to complete your whole routine," Raanta said. "When you get to the plane you might put up an ice pack, you try to hydrate and drink as much as you can. We're lucky that our staff is really into that; they have all of the supplements and everything ready for us."

"Said Crouse: "Our training staff and our medical staff, they're so on top of that. They give us every resource we need to be successful, and it takes away those excuses of being dehydrated or being tired. We have all of this in-flight hydration stuff; they do such a good job of putting everything in place to make sure you get everything that you need."

And with everything, really, winning helps.

"On those long flights, they're easier when you're coming out with a win," Crouse said. "The plane's a little happier and a little more energetic. It helps take that time away."

There have been many happy flights to start the year, as the team's record indicates. And hopefully there will be many more to come.

And soon.

After this upcoming western Canada stretch, the Coyotes face a five-day, 4,400-mile, 10-flight hours trip to Washington, St. Louis and Minnesota.

Cue Netflix, update the podcasts and deal the cards.

Photo credit (all): Janelle Etzel 

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