SUNRISE, Fla. — Flying across three time zones and playing back-to-back against two of the best teams in the NHL sounds difficult.
That’s because it is.
For the Kraken, this was their first real embarkation of a straight shot to the East Coast. When they faced Columbus, Philadelphia and New Jersey early in the season, it was after a stop in Nashville.
This time the Kraken spent all of Thanksgiving on a cross-country flight, arriving in Tampa, Florida, around 5:30 p.m. the night before playing the Lightning.
That’s barely time to register what time it is, not to mention face the defending Stanley Cup champions. They went to Sunrise the next day to face the league-best Panthers, 3,269 miles from home; the second-farthest distance between two teams in the league. The only two teams farther are Florida and Vancouver at 3,405 miles apart.
“It’s a long trip,” Kraken defenseman Adam Larsson said. “We got kind of used to the feel at home for a certain amount of time, so you have to get used to the time change. I feel like you just do a good job of staying up a little bit longer on the first night, then you get into the routine.”
Larsson at least had stretched time zones before. When he was in Edmonton and playing in Mountain time, there were a few trips east. There’s nothing quite like going from one coast to another, though, and for a few players, the experience was entirely new.
“Probably when I was younger, or something like that,” said Colin Blackwell, who previously played for Nashville and the New York Rangers. “But I definitely haven’t (done a three-time zone trip) in the NHL. … I just try to stick to the same schedule and get up at the same time, popped some NyQuil (Thursday night) to go to bed early.”
Larsson said he tries not to sleep on the plane when going east, so he’d be tired enough to fall asleep early, but this time, “it didn’t work out as well as I wanted to.”
There isn’t a universal strategy to fight the jet lag, especially for a group of guys who have different experience levels for long trips, and for back-to-backs at the start of a three-time zone jump.
“I think it’s just picking your spots and when you’re tired, you have to go to bed,” Carson Soucy said. “There’s no waiting til it’s 10 o’clock or something because you’re gonna be up all night waiting til it’s 10 or whatever. When you’re tired, you have to sleep.”
Soucy said “it’s not like we’re up at 6 a.m.” on game days anyway, and the road routine of keeping the same practice and skate times helps normalize things.
Previously with Minnesota in the central time zone, he didn’t have to skip so many time zones as much and said ahead of the Florida swing he was curious how it was going to feel.
Larsson agreed, saying by game time, “All the guys feel the same.”
“It’s good when you get morning skate, then you get your legs moving again,” he said. “After a long flight especially, that’s nice. We have to have some of the longest trips in the league; this has to be one of the longest trips in the league. But it’s good to have the guys get the chance altogether — even if a lot of the guys are sleeping.”
Without Mark Giordano, who is still in COVID-19 protocol, and Calle Jarnkrok still not on the road trip, the Kraken had a roster move to make.
They recalled Riley Sheahan, who they had just waived to send to AHL Charlotte, where he played in four games. He doesn’t have to pass through waivers again so long as he doesn’t play more than 10 games in Seattle or stay with the club for longer than 30 days.
Along with Sheahan replacing Colin Blackwell in the lineup, Will Borgen made his season debut in place of Jeremy Lauzon, after being on the roster without a game played the previous 21 contests.
Borgen draws in
Borgen got into things early, getting involved in a scuffle with Florida’s Ryan Lomberg just 1:22 into his time on ice as a member of the Kraken.
That came a play after Haydn Fleury was being challenged by the Panthers at the blue line after he didn’t hear an offside whistle.
For Borgen, that was the perfect chance to up his intensity and get into it in his first game.
“It was nice to get back into a game,” Borgen said. “It was good to get some of the rust out. … The little scuffle, that gets you into it. It’s a little intense and gets you into it pretty quick.”