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Pens adjusting to Sunday's noon start time

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

The puck will drop at 12:20 p.m. for Game 3 of Pittsburgh's First Round series against the New York Islanders on Sunday at PPG Paints Arena - much earlier than the Penguins are accustomed to.

Which means that these hockey players, known for being creatures of habit, will have to make some changes to their pre-game routines.

"I don't know that I've ever played in a noon game," said Matt Cullen, veteran of 1,516 regular-season games and 130 playoff games. "I think the biggest thing is just getting your body going. You're used to having all day to prepare."

For all of the guys, it starts with getting to bed at a reasonable hour to make sure they get a good night's sleep.

"I have to be at the rink at 10 o' clock, so I'll probably get to the rink at 9:15," Kris Letang said. "That means I leave my house at 8:45. Probably go to bed at 11:30, midnight. Get eight hours of sleep."

Coming from a smaller-market team in Florida, Nick Bjugstad hasn't played many afternoon games in his career, so he's not quite sure what to expect. His plan is to wake up, take a cold shower and get some coffee.

"It'll be good," he said. "I'd rather have 12 o' clock than later in the afternoon, because then it's such an awkward time with the nap. It's like, what do you do with your time in between? It's not long enough to take a nap."

Like Bjugstad, a lot of the players drink coffee, and the Dunkin' Donuts java in the locker room will certainly be in high demand (though they are going to try not to have any more than they usually do despite the earlier start). The majority of them also said they will eat breakfast instead of their typical pregame meals, which usually consist of chicken and pasta.

"Some guys do like the traditional chicken and pasta or whatever, get up and have that at 7," Cullen said. "But I'm not doing that. I'll do like oatmeal and eggs and maybe a little bit of bacon, some fruit. Just breakfast."

There is one player, however, who sticks to the same routine regardless of when the puck drops.

"I'll eat the same," Sidney Crosby said. "I don't mix it up. I have rice and chicken. Maybe throw a couple eggs in there."

Regardless of what they eat, it'll be important to make sure they have enough fuel in their bodies for what lies ahead.

"You try to have a good meal at a good time so you have the energy necessary for the game," Letang said. "But at the same time, you don't want to eat too much because it's close to the game. You don't want to feel heavy."

After they eat, most players plan on getting to the rink earlier than usual.

"Just to prepare sticks and stuff," Letang said.

"You've got to get your body moving a little bit," Cullen added. "Some guys like to hop in a cold tub, hot tub, whatever. But the biggest thing is just getting up early enough so you have time to wake up."

And once the clock hits 12:20 p.m., the Penguins - who come back to Pittsburgh down 2-0 in the series - will be ready to start turning things around.

"Our mindset has to be to go out there with the urgency and desperation to get a win," Crosby said. "Unfortunately, we weren't able to get one there (on Long Island), but we're coming back home and it's a big game."

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