CHICAGO – It’s not often one sees a.m. next to the time for puck drop in an NHL game.
That will be the story for the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday when they meet for the first time at the United Center since last year’s Stanley Cup Final with puck drop scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Central time.
It will be the nationally televised game on NBC prior to the NFL conference championship games, and it will be an interesting little differentiation from the normally rigid start time schedule for NHL players.
For most it will be the earliest game they’ve played since their junior hockey days, and it will mean the same kind of commitment to rest and nutrition that should already be a part of their preparation.
“It’s been a really long time since I’ve played an 11:30 (a.m.) game, so that’s going to be a little different,” said Milan Lucic. “It should be a lot of fun for two Original Six teams.
“[My last 11:30 a.m. game] was probably when I was 14 years old.
“It’s almost like a practice day. We practice a lot at 11:30 a.m. and you do whatever you can to get yourself ready for a practice. It’s almost that same preparation, but there’s obviously a lot more on the line. It’s about getting a good sleep in tonight, and getting a good meal. You need to get really hydrated, and do all the stuff you would normally do the night before a game.”
The 11:30 a.m. start is actually closer to a practice time for the Bruins, and that shouldn’t make it very difficult to get the blood flowing for an important measuring stick game. Either way the Bruins sport a commanding 5-1-0 record in six matinees headed into Sunday’s tilt with the Hawks, and should be ready to play before another afternoon home game on Monday against the Los Angeles Kings roughly 26 hours later.
“I like these early games. Maybe not 11:30 (a.m.), but at this time of year I can find the morning skates to be a little overrated. I find that guys just want to go out and play,” said Claude Julien. “So to just go out there and play is fine with me. I’m ready for that, and so are the players. We’re all in the same boat. So we’ll put all of the excuses aside tomorrow, and hopefully go out there and put on a good show.”
A good show is exactly what everybody got during the Stanley Cup Final last June between the two Original Six teams, and it’s fair to assume that’s what on tap no matter when the puck drops on Sunday.