Caps defense dead tired during overtime. (Photo credit: Clydeorama)
During the regular season, a full sixty-minute hockey game at Verizon Center starts at 7pm and typically ends around 9:30. If there’s an overtime or a shootout, the game ends at the latest around 9:45pm.
On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals played their fifth game of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs that went into extra time. When Marian Gaborik scored in sudden death to end the game — it was the next day and also the longest recorded game of the 2012 NHL postseason thus far, lasting an insane four hours and 34 minutes. One hour and fifty-four minutes of hockey was played that night. The game was the third longest in Capitals history, and the longest ever at Verizon Center.
So how do the players adjust to such a marathon game and what does the training staff on the bench do to help? I spoke to Capitals Equipment Manager Brock Myles and he revealed the staff’s methods of keeping the players energized, focused, and ready to play.
Ovechkin’s ice time has been a topic of much discussion recently — there was nothing to discuss on Wednesday, when he played 35:14, more than half the total time of a regular game.
Midway through the third overtime, during a NHL-mandated break in play to resurface the ice, NBC panned to an exhausted Alex Ovechkin on the bench, eating something. According to Myles that was probably a “power gel”, one of the things the players may ask for as the game goes longer.
“The first overtime, nobody really changes anything,” said Myles. “And then as you get into the second or third overtime, some of the players will ask for fruit, a banana or an orange, maybe power gel or some energy drinks. They’ll have some of the medical staff make them some special medical drinks, just so the body can respond to that long on the ice.”
Surprisingly, the staff did not change too much as the game continued late into the night, relying on routine and professionalism. “Obviously the day is a little bit longer with overtime,” said Myles. “[…] but we’re there to help them and we’re pretty organized, so there’s not really issues. We could go ten overtime periods, we wouldn’t miss a beat.”
A little longer indeed. Myles got home at about 1:45 in the morning, and was woken up by his kids at 5:30 the next morning. Some Verizon Center staff, he says, got home even later.
He didn’t miss a beat. “It’s nothing really that I or our staff haven’t seen before, most of us have experience with playoffs in overtime, double overtime, triple overtime. We don’t really change too much, it’s just basically like having another period.”
Myles has been the Capitals’ equipment manager for nearly six years, having been “called up” from the Caps’ minor league affiliate at the time in Portland, Maine in much the same way players are called up through the system. “I was in the Capitals organization a long time before I got the job here,” he says. “Luckily enough, Glen Hanlon, the coach at the time, [was] my coach in Portland and knew George [McPhee], and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to come work in the NHL for the Capitals organization.
When you’re an equipment manager in the minors, or at junior or college, a lot of guys have their dream goal to work in the National Hockey League. That was mine, I was lucky enough that was my career goal, and I couldn’t think of a better place to work than Washington.”
Here’s Hockey Diaries’ feature on Myles from earlier in the year.
It was a dream career arc for Myles, and the Caps have certainly put him to good use ever since.
Neither team showed up on Wednesday expecting to play essentially the equivalent of two full games, but that’s the postseason in the NHL — and even though the Caps will likely be sore and bruised for a few days, the staff made sure they were physically prepared to go out and win the game today.
Additional reporting by Ana Hansen.