Dennis Wideman has averaged 27:15.
T.J. Brodie has only logged a bit less, at 26:43.
Ditto for Kris Russell, at 26:37.
And there hasn’t even been overtime.
So, is Bob Hartley worried he’s tiring out his three top defensemen?
Of course not.
“We’re coaching elite athletes — I’m not coaching a nursing home,” the Flames coach said yesterday, per the Calgary Herald. “Those guys are well-conditioned athletes. Our total team game and our conditioning allow us to play those guys. I really believe those minutes are blown way out of proportion.
“You know, we’re getting so many stats right now. Pretty soon the manager of the arena is going to come and tell me how many cases of beer were sold after the first, second, third periods. It has to stop.”
Hartley’s player deployment stands in stark contrast to that of Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins, whose biggest workhorse has been defenseman Alex Edler (23:36) and who’s taken all sorts of heat for not playing the Sedins enough.
If the Flames can defeat (and eliminate) the Canucks tonight in Vancouver, Hartley’s troops will get a good rest before the start of the second round.
“We’re in the business to win games,” he said. “My mindset, my philosophy? If I have to play five guys the full 60 minutes to win the game, I will do it.”