Red Wings fans propping their eyes open Thursday after staying up late for yet another overtime game on the West Coast are ready for realignment.
Next season the Wings finally make their long-anticipated move to the Eastern Conference, meaning they won’t have to make these cross-country trips back and forth — unless it’s in the Stanley Cup Final.
“The toughest thing about this type of series is you have to go so far, the three-hour time change and everything,” defenseman Brendan Smith told reporters in Anaheim.
“It’s something you have to deal with. They’re dealing with it when they come to Detroit and they have to come back here,” Smith said. “But for us, we’re not used to it as much. It’s tough but it’s in the nature of the game and you have to get used to it.”
Veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall is one of the Wings who’s definitely used to it.
“It’s one of those things, it is what it is,” Kronwall said. “You have to find your way through it. You can’t think too much about it. Just rest as much as possible. Eat, sleep and drink a lot of fluids.”
Defenseman Kyle Quincey has some bad memories of playoff travel.
“I remember in 2007, my first playoff with these guys, we went to San Jose, Calgary and Anaheim,” he said. “By the end of it we were toast.”
All the players agree, however, that the trip they’re making Thursday is more difficult than the one they made Tuesday.
“The worst is going back from here to the Eastern (time zone),” Quincey said. “It’s a four- or five-hour flight with a three-hour time change. You get on a plane at 9 in the morning, you get home, the next thing you know you get back to your place and where did the day go? You have dinner, which is really lunch, you’re trying to get to sleep and you’re supposed to play a game the next day.”
The Wings have tried to make sure the players get the proper rest.
“A lot of guys have hard time sleeping on a plane, which doesn’t help,” Quincey said. “The team has definitely taken a lot of steps to be stable. Right after (games) we don’t fly home. It’s worse to be flying home after a game.”
For now, down 3-2 in the series to the Anaheim Ducks, the Wings are just hoping to make another cross-country excursion and play in a Game 7.
But they are looking forward to the move to the East.
“It’s going to definitely be easier on the travel schedule,” Smith said. “I’m excited about it. I’ll get to play at home in Toronto and a lot closer to home for my family and friends. So that will be pretty cool.”
Cleary a little worse for the wear
Daniel Cleary did find out the number of the truck that ran him over in Game 5.
Late in the second period, Daniel Winnik took a shot at Cleary, who was playing the puck behind the net. Winnik was given a five-minute boarding major.
Cleary went to the dressing room, but was able to return for the third period.
“I didn’t see him coming at all. It hurt,” Cleary told reporters in Anaheim after the game. “I think it was Winnik. I went to get the puck behind the net and reversed it and I didn’t even see him coming.”
Cleary had to undergo some testing before doctors allowed him to go back in the game.
Even though Cleary came back, he said he was still feeling the hit.
“Sore, whole left side was sore, shoulder, hand, ribs, neck, head,” Cleary said. By the numbers
According to Wings’ statistician Greg Innis, Wednesday marked the sixth time in team history that they’ve gone to overtime three times in one playoff series.
The last time was in 2009 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Wings have never had four overtime games in a single playoff series.
It’s also the 11th overtime the Wings have had in 30 playoff games against the Ducks. With Wednesday night’s loss, they are 5-6 in those games.