As we discussed before the start of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, the Boston Bruins-Vancouver Canucks series will require the most travel of any modern finals round and the second most in NHL history. Along with worries of turning off media members with limited travel opportunities, the concern was that one or both of the teams might blame poor performances on the 2,504 mile trip required as the series switches venues.
The Bruins received a nice gap between their Game 7 match against the Tampa Bay Lightning and their trip to Vancouver, likely mitigating most of the jet lag that could have been a problem/excuse if the turnaround time between rounds was shorter. Each squad will face the possible issue in Game 3, however, as they only received the typical 48 window between contests.
Lengthy travel cannot help two teams full of bruised players, but the good news is that both teams dealt with that problem. Neither team seems willing to use the five-hour trip as an excuse if they suffer defeat, either. NHL.com points out that the Canucks might be more used to the rigors of travel considering their playoff experiences (they already were from the Western Conference regular season, in the first place).
Vancouver has already advanced through three long-distances series in the playoffs: Chicago in the first round (nearly 2,200 miles), Nashville in the second round (a little more than 2,500 miles) and San Jose in the Western Conference Finals (about 1,000 miles).
In comparison, the Bruins have had only one series this postseason — the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay — where the journey was more than 1,000 miles.
Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff seemed to brush off the worries, at least from his own perspective.
On Sunday afternoon, after the five-hour plane ride, Ehrhoff said he felt about the same as he would if he didn’t travel that day.
“I don’t think it’s a big factor because both teams go through the same thing,” Ehrhoff said. “The only thing is that we go through it the whole year, we’ve gone through it a bunch of times even in the playoffs, so we know what to expect.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien seemed positive about his players’ ability to deal with jet lag when asked on Sunday.
“No matter what, we’re going to have to battle through it,” Julien said. “There’s no way around it. We have to fight through those kind of things. I don’t want to use this as an excuse or disadvantage. I want us to I guess challenge ourselves to be able to fight through that kind of stuff.”
Despite each team showing a brave face, it wouldn’t be shocking if fans or writers start griping about the travel schedule if one or both seem flat in Game 3. All of those excuses won’t matter once the puck drops around 8 p.m. ET (which you can watch on Versus) tonight, though.