CALGARY, Alberta - Hockey is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. And playing games at the professional level on back-to-back nights can be extremely taxing and punishing to the players' bodies.
Worse yet, if players have to play three games in four nights. But what about four games in four nights. Yes, that's not a typo. Four straight nights of playing hockey.
That's exactly what happened last week to Penguins forward Joseph Blandisi, who played with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday and Friday and with Pittsburgh on Thursday and Saturday.
But you won't find him complaining.
"There was one point in my career in the (Ontario Hockey League) where I didn't know if I was going to play a professional hockey game," Blandisi said. "So, playing four games in four nights of professional hockey isn't something to complain about for me."
To make the run even more demanding was that Blandisi was forced to travel for every single game. Here's a look at Blandisi's four-day whirlwind.
*Wednesday night game at Rochester (WBS).
*Thursday afternoon travel to Pittsburgh. Thursday night game against Columbus (PIT).
*Friday afternoon travel to Cleveland. Friday night game against Cleveland (WBS).
*Saturday afternoon travel to Pittsburgh. Saturday night game against Los Angeles (PIT).
"It's something I've gotten used to. You never know when a callup is coming or when you're going to get sent down," he said. "I keep an eye on both teams (Pittsburgh and WBS), both teams' travel schedules and plans. I try and stay on top of it. I knew we were going to Cleveland last week so I had a bag packed just in case (Pittsburgh called). It's got some wear and tear on it.
"It's not easy, but with the help I have around me with staff, family and friends, makes it easier."
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the four-day workload was having little time to let his body recover and heal before playing again. If you can't recover, then your body isn't capable of optimal performance. And being in a car for several hours each day didn't allow for him to go through a proper recovery protocol.
"The travel made it difficult to recover. I did the best that I can," Blandisi said. "I brought my recovery methods with me everywhere I go. I try to use them when I have downtime. Even if it means skipping a nap and taking time to recover, that benefits me."
Blandisi did make sure to hit on other methods to deal with inflammation and mental exhaustion.
"Getting your eight hours of sleep, the proper food for you brain as well. That helps with decision making," Blandisi said. "But four games in four nights is going to be hard mentally and fatiguing for sure."
Thankfully, Blandisi had a chance Sunday to relax as the team had a travel day to Calgary for its upcoming western Canadian swing. He was able to get a well-earned good night's rest and sleep in a little on Monday.
"It was good. Definitely got a sleep in this morning," Blandisi laughed. "Got to bed earlier last night. It was a nice change.
"I needed the 24 hours to let my body rest and leave it alone physically for a bit."