BOSTON – The 48 minutes, 36 seconds that Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg played in Game 1 was mind-boggling. Same goes for Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith’s time, which was four seconds longer.
What do you think about when you’re exerting that much energy, logging that many minutes?
“You just don’t think about being tired, I guess,” Seidenberg said with a smile. “You stay in the moment and focus on the shift at hand. You just go with it.”
A defenseman’s time-on-ice can add up quickly during a Stanley Cup Final game, especially those long ones. And the way this series has gone between the Bruins and Blackhawks, it won’t be surprising to see a few more long games. For top players who get their share of those top minutes, especially defensemen, you just have to will your way through it.
“You just have to tell yourself to find a way,” he said. “Everyone’s trying to catch their breath. You know it’s going to be one bounce (that wins it). You just want to stick with it and make sure you’re being smart and assertive out there.”
Easier said than done, really. You’re tired. And no matter what player says fatigue is not an excuse, fatigue is actually the perfect excuse. You don’t do a whole lot well when you’re tired, whether it’s working at a non-physically draining job like ours or an exhausting one like a hockey player’s. But they’ve trained their entire lives for just such multi-overtime emergencies, so they roll with it.
“There are a lot of different things that I do to train, but everybody takes their training seriously,” Keith said. “You look around the league, you hear a lot of different stories about guys. I’m not the only guy in the gym.”
Still, you can only do so much to ward off the inevitable. The legs start wearing out, the heart is pumping rapidly and the mind isn’t exactly on your side. Go on adrenaline, perhaps?
“At some point that runs out, too,” Seidenberg said with a laugh. “It’s just focus on the next shift and going from there. That’s what I do.”
Sounds like that’s what a lot of players do in that situation: don’t think too much, just take it second by second, no matter how many seconds you end up on the ice.
The Bruins and Blackhawks have already played two overtime games. There’s a good chance there’ll be more. As far as all that extra time on ice, players deal with it as it comes, and do whatever they can to be ready for it to potentially come again.
“I’m making sure I’m really disciplined and doing those things that I do after a game, whether it’s stretching, hydrating. But there’s only so much you can do,” Keith said about that Game 1. “But I definitely noticed it. Anybody who didn’t would be lying to you. It’s almost two games; you’re going to notice it.”