Who is up for a Matinee?

This Saturday the Oilers will be in Detroit to take on the Red Wings. The game starts at 2:00 PM Detroit time which is noon here in Edmonton. The Wings are not the team they were a few years ago, age even catches up with legends. With players like Lidstrom, Yzerman and Hull no longer flying around the ice at Joe Louis arena, visiting teams now have a better chance to get a victory but for the Oilers there is still an issue to deal with this trip: afternoon game!

Playing a matinee game is way different then a night time game. Hockey players are machines. They are programmed to prepare and play games at night. They have been playing games at night since they were in junior. These afternoon games really throw a curve ball at the guys.

Morning skates have become a huge part of players’ game day preparations. It is nice to get out on the ice and wheel around for a while. They are usually not really hard skates but players like to be sharp with their passing and shooting. It sets the tone for their game that night.

I always found morning skates got rid of the stiffness that creeps in during the season. A little sweat on the ice and a good stretch limbers a guy up. If you need treatment there is lots of time before and after the skate to get it. Massage? No problem, coming right up. The bottom line is the morning skate takes the edge off an NHL season!

With a matinee, there is no chance of a morning skate. No coach is going to make his players get on the ice at 8 am for a 2 pm game! That would make no sense. So what does a coach do to get his guys up and ready? I have had coaches try all kinds of things. The worst was a brisk 7 am walk! He thought sleep was overrated! I was so mad about the walk I couldn’t even look at our coach the whole day!

(We lost that game…we were all so tired we never had a chance!)

Morning skates are also a time for meetings. PP, PK and game plan reviews often get taken care of in the morning so that pregame time at night isn’t busy with meetings. With a matinee, coaches must decide between having meetings at the hotel before leaving for the rink or having them at the rink. I preferred them at the hotel so the time at the rink wasn’t so busy. Either way, it throws the players out of their normal rhythm.

Nutrition is now a very big deal for NHL players. Knowing what to eat and when is a discussion that occurs often in dressing rooms. For a night game they will eat a big meal around 1 PM, give or take. With early starts confusion with meals is common.

The Oilers bus will leave the hotel likely at 11:30 am Saturday for Joe Louis arena. Some players will just eat once, a big meal at 9 30 or so. But will that meal sustain them until after the games finishes, around 4 30? Probably not. Others will get up early have a big meal around 7 am, then go back to sleep and have a snack just before heading over to the rink. That is what I used to do but it didn’t work for everyone.

Another issue is what to eat? Do you have a big breakfast? Are eggs, toast and bacon the answer? How easy is it to force down a huge spaghetti and chicken meal at 8 am? I can tell you it is hard, really hard to eat that meal so early!

The last piece of the puzzle is the sleep factor. Players have been trained to play at night and have a nap somewhere around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. So Saturday, when the Oilers take the ice, their internal clocks will be telling them it is time to nap and not to play. It is hard to get past that.

Imagine if you are a person that is accustomed to working from 9 am to 5 pm. Then one day your boss tells you that your shift is now from 12 am to 9 am. Your internal clock will be telling you it is time to sleep and rest when you are heading to work.

Afternoon games are a good test of a player’s mental strength. Can they tell their body to get going when all these issues above are confusing it? Watch the game Saturday, you will be able to tell who has pushed through and who hasn’t!

Old School Hockey

Last night Jamal Mayers fought Raffi Torres in a very early fight when the Hawks played the Coyotes. It was the first time Torres played against the Hawks since he buried Hossa last year. The Hawks wanted revenge for this hit.

I love old school hockey! An eye for an eye! Good job by both players. I love that Mayers went after him right away. I respect Torres for knowing this was coming and accepting it. This is the way more problems should be handled in the NHL.

The Hawks feel like they got some retribution from the fight. The hard feelings may still be there but I doubt they will boil over. If Torres had not fought it would have.

Fight… get it over… and both teams move on. I love it!

Do I sound like Don Cherry?

  • Con-Air McDavid

    completely unrelated, but has anyone seen the contest winners for the oilers photoshop contest? they really suck. tell wayne to get another one going over here so we can show them how its done.

  • book¡e

    Yeah, old time hockey is great. Players today are wimps. Back in the day, concussions were something you took an aspirin for and you sucked it up and played. If you had the chance to crush some guy’s skull into the boards, you took it, and then you took the fight that came after – it was a real man’s game.

    These idiotic studies on Chronic traumatic encephalopathy are wrecking the game. Pretty soon when you go to a hockey game, you will just have to sit there and watch hockey all night and that would suck. What do a bunch of brain surgeons who have never played the game know anyway.

    That is a bit tongue in cheek and to be honest, I like the ‘idea’ of old time hockey. As someone who grew up fighting, I get the thrill. However, I do think its time for the game to transition. Hockey can be just as good without fighting and boarding. I actually don’t think the game has a choice, between liability issues and the need to attract young players, the game wont survive unless it adapts as more and more research comes out regarding brain damage.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Here’s your clue:

        “That is a bit tongue in cheek”

        At any rate, there’s a culture change going on and the dinosaurs protecting the feckless enforcer are in the midst of their death throes.

        It would be great to eliminate all choreographed fights.

          • book¡e

            The point is that the NHL regulates behaviour meant to protect individuals from being unduly harmed. They do this because it sets precedent for the sport at lower levels, it protects team/league assets, it reduces the potential of a lawsuit, and it prevents any negative reputation affects on the league.

            Similarly, the league is likely to becoming increasingly serious about penalizing dangerous hits and eliminating fighting. To do so, they will be telling willing participants that they are not allowed to engage in fighting. They will be doing so to protect players from long term harm, to protect themselves from liability, and to protect the game of hockey from negative reputation affects. This will occur because there is growing evidence that the kind of blows one regularly receives in hockey cause cumulative brain damage with long term consequences.

            Now, if someone is willing to subject themselves to this, should it not be allowed? The question of ‘free choice’ becomes complex in a sport where a ‘tough guy’ can earn $millions over a few years by engaging in activity which is harmful to themselves. There is an argument that with that level of compensation (truly a magnitude above what they could expect to earn elsewhere), they may not actually have ‘free choice’.

            In any case, the point is, if you like Old Time Hockey, enjoy it now because it is not going to be around for much longer.

          • CaptainLander

            Hands down the most well spoken commenter on a hockey blog.

            Well done sir and I totally agree, there is a lot of talk about this in football and there is no fighting. Then again does it not seem to be an issue in MMA. The market for violence in sport continues to exist and Hockey is still a violent sport. But a violent sport where the skill stuff (scoring goals) is still more celebrated the violence part. My point hockey can survive without fighting I would believe that one day it will have to.

  • The Goalie 1976

    Struds,

    Was this coach “The worst was a brisk 7 am walk! He thought sleep was overrated! I was so mad about the walk I couldn’t even look at our coach the whole day!” a former Oiler coach by chance?

    Inquiring minds would love to know LOL

  • The Goalie 1976

    “Imagine if you are a person that is accustomed to working from 9 am to 5 pm. Then one day your boss tells you that your shift is now from 12 am to 9 am. Your internal clock will be telling you it is time to sleep and rest when you are heading to work.”

    This is so true. I had a job where my shifts were 11am-7pm, then 5am-2pm, then 2pm- 12am. I was a mess. My sleep pattern was all screwed up, and I was eating very irregular hours. I never understood the gripe NHL players had with the afternoon games, now I understand.

  • GVBlackhawk

    Both teams are subject to an altered routine, sleep schedule, etc. There is no disadvantage for either team. Desire to win is paramount to success. If the Oilers play like they did in Colorado, it will be curtains for them. One big difference is that this is the start of the road trip rather than the end.

    Spaghetti and chicken for breakfast Struds? Bacon and eggs? Are you eating for a game or shaking off a hangover?

    • book¡e

      The disadvantage comes when you go across time zones. Detroit normally plays games around 7. Oilers 8. Edmonton will now play at noon thier body time. 8 hour difference. While it will only be 5 hour difference for Detroit.

    • Jason Strudwick

      The Oilers are young so they don’t have a lot of experience at preparing for these games. The Oilers also don’t schedule many of these. The time change makes it hard as well. Hard to fall asleep with the two hour time change. Lots of challenges for the Oilers that the Red Wings don’t have.

      For the meals in the morning, you can see how hard it is to find the right mix of food for an early morning game.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Did the 7 am brisk walk coach ever play in the NHL?

    I’m not the most pleasant person in the morning… that would have ruined me! Way to “set the tone” for the rest of the day… ugh!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Not sure i can stand to watch the Oilers get pasted again in another matinee. Hope it’s not one of those car accident type games when fans can’t look away.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    As has been mentioned several times here, both teams have to play the afternoon shift. Why is it that the Oilers suck at it more than anyone else? And this goes right back to the Gretzky days. Is it that the Detroits, New Yorks and Chicagos play a more of the afternoon games? Kinda like playing poorly the first game back from a longer road trip. Whats up with that Jason?

    I know I shouldn’t watch the train wreck but the eternal optimist says “one of these days”.

  • 2004Z06

    No problem with removing the choreographed fights but they began to increase with the introduction of the instigator rule.

    I really believe that removing fighting from the game completely will result in an increase in injuries.

    Certain players are way more likely to take ‘liberties’ when there is no one to hold them accountable other than a referee.

    I say get rid of the instigator rule, remove the choreographed fights and let the MEN semi-police themselves. That to me is old time hockey.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    I would like to know what our record is in afternoon games. Struds ask your partner M to find out. It just seems we bite regardless of who we play.
    When do the CAPS make a move. I’d bet next week by Friday. Who? I’d think they will want to add rather than substract. Ryan O’Reilly for F.Forsberg?
    My own opinion is that McPhee will need to overpay for any top 6 forward regardless. Does Ted Leonis think its Oats? Hunter had the same players?Minus Semin.Could Tambo be involved in any trade?Opportunity knocks.Dosen’t hurt to ask does it.

  • 2004Z06

    The psychology of two tough guys dropping the mitts is something that some guys that never played the game at a high-level find difficult to understand.

    What happened in the Torres/Mayers fight is exactly what hockey needs to remain in the game. These players understand that everyone is accountable and expect it.

    I for one wish they’d never brought in the “instigator rule”.

  • MarcusBillius

    Jason, of those three players you listed, plus the current Wings stars, who would you say was the most difficult/frustrating to play against, and why? Who do you think is under-rated?

    I’m always so excited to see your posts because you can offer an insight no one else here can. Any chance you could post more impressions of players or day-to-day life in the NHL?

    • MarcusBillius

      With players like Lidstrom, Yzerman and Hull no longer flying around the ice at Joe Louis arena.

      Hull never played for the Redwings – should probably have read Howe…

      Don’t think Jason played against either Hull or Howe 🙂

    • Jason Strudwick

      Send me suggestions on my twitter account. Struds1260. I will answer or discuss anything you want to know about. It would be cool to hear what your readers want me to write about.

      Holmstrom was always so hard to play against. Such a warrior. Same with Draper. I loved watching Pavel.D. He was and is so special.

  • MarcusBillius

    The point of the article leads me to ask the question……….exactly who is drafting up this retarded hockey schedule?

    Must be some guy out of Totronto……..if I have to watch one more Toronto game I am gonna puke. Hockey Night in Canada should change their name to Toronto Night in Canada.

    We all know the CBC has been designed around all things Toronto……..but throw us a bone now and then CBC!!!