Players adjust to wacky schedule

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:06 PM ET


 Professional athletes are creatures of habit.

 They prefer to follow carefully planned out routines where everything from breakfast to afternoon naps are perfectly scheduled.

 But the Western Conference schedule has thrown a wrench in most players' timetables.

 Game 1 started at 2 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. start in Game 2. Back in Calgary, the puck dropped at 8 p.m. last night but will be moved up to 2 p.m. for Game 4 on Sunday.

 Head coach Darryl Sutter said the wacky schedule has thrown both teams for a loop.

 "You know, this bloody schedule in the conference finals is so screwed up," Sutter said. "You have an afternoon game, a 7 p.m. game, then you come up here, play an 8 p.m. game, get two days off, go back to an afternoon game. I think our routine has changed but there's nothing our team can do about it because it's TV and building schedules."

 Without wristwatches and a handy pocket schedule, players might not know whether to lay down to catch a few winks or start strapping on the equipment.

 Defenceman Mike Commodore said he's not a big fan of afternoon tilts but says he and his 'mates have prepared for the schedule.

 "It's a little different because the first four games are at (three) different times," Commodore says. "We realized that at the beginning of the series. Obviously, you can't do the same things every day and get in your normal routine. The most important thing is to make sure you get your rest at night and go to bed at the same time."

 Marcus Nilson, one of the few players who prefers afternoon tilts, says as long as teams have enough time between games to prepare, different start times aren't a big deal.

 "I don't really care," Nilson says. "You just have to mentally prepare for it.

 "It's part of being a professional."

 Afternoon games also force players to make better use of their time at the rink.

 "I nap during the afternoon when we have a night game, primarily to break the day in half," says Game 1 overtime hero Steve Montador. "I wake up and come to the rink so it's the same for an afternoon game. It's just like the second half of the day."


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