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Pens prepared early for Sweden trip

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
European players like Evgeni Malkin know all about overseas travel, but playing regular-season games in Europe will be a new experience. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
The Penguins left Saturday for Sweden, but players and coaches began preparing for the trip earlier in the week.

General Manager Ray Shero said that strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar and trainer Chris Stewart worked to prepare the players for the unique demands of a trip involving an eight-hour flight and six-hour time difference. They examined sleep patterns, eating habits and other data to help the players deal with travel fatigue.
“Obviously, many of our guys have been to Europe before, playing in tournaments, playing for national teams, but we wanted to help prepare them in the best way possible, especially because these will be regular season games,” Shero said.
Kadar and Stewart shared their own travel experiences with NHL teams and worked with a consultant who specializes in fatigue management. Players were then given individual programs regarding sleeping and eating so they could start adjusting before the trip.
“We also talked a lot to our European players, who make this trip all the time, and we just tried to put a good plan together for the team,” Kadar said. “We started on Monday, to help with the adjustment.”
Because of the lengthy flight and the time change, the Penguins were scheduled to land in Stockholm on Sunday morning. But they won’t be going to sleep when they arrive. Instead, the players will meet for a team meal, then get on the ice for an afternoon practice.
“It won’t be strenuous or anything – just to get a sweat,” Shero said.
“We’ll arrive in the morning and try to treat it like a normal day,” Kadar said. “Sure, the players will be a little tired, but we’ll have a practice and get some dinner, and then they’ll be able to be back on schedule and get a good night’s sleep.”
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will be practice days in Stockholm, in advance of Thursday’s quick day-trip to Helsinki, Finland for a pre-season game against Jokerit of the Finnish Elite League. After another practice day in Sweden Friday, the Penguins will take on the Ottawa Senators in regular season games Saturday and Sunday at the Globe Arena in Stockholm.
“It will be good for us just to have a few practice days over there, to get our feet on the ground, and we’re looking forward to it,” Shero said  “Camp this year has been kind of a whirlwind, starting early, playing pre-season games right away, traveling. It will be good for our team just to be in one place for a few days and have some good practice days.”

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