Wings get some down time after West Coast trip
But the Detroit Red Wings -- a team that includes a dozen European players -- have to deal with traveling through four time zones as part of their job. And right now, it's time to take a break.
Having just completed their second western trip in the past three weeks, the Red Wings are in the middle of five straight days with no games. The players are being given Sunday off after practicing at City Arena, this morning. (Joe Louis Arena was being set up for a So You Think You Can Dance show.) Detroit's next game is Wednesday (7:30 p.m., FSN) at Joe Louis Arena.
"There's no time difference back home," said Tomas Kopecky of Slovakia. "This is pretty unique, especially being in Detroit we have to go out west so many times."
Swede Andreas Lilja used the opportunity to send a barb in the direction of countryman Tomas Holmstrom, noted free spirit in the Detroit locker room: "There aren't any time changes in Sweden, but there should be at least one hour between me and Homer."
The Red Wings have two more three-game western trips that include contests in the Pacific Time Zone. That doesn't include trips to Phoenix, Colorado and Dallas.
Whether it's easier to travel west and play a game or head home and play is a matter of personal preference among Red Wings.
"I think it's hard sometimes to come back," said Lilja. "You get home and you can't sleep at night because you're on a different schedule. Out there, you feel like you have to go to bed. You're on the road and just there for the games."
The last time that the Red Wings went to the West Coast this season, they had three days off before their next game at Joe Louis Arena. That break helped the team take a 3-2 victory in its first game back home, according to coach Mike Babcock.
Playing well upon returning home from the West Coast was a problem in the past for the Red Wings. Two seasons ago, Detroit went 1-3-0 in their first games back with the lone win coming in overtime. In each of those four games, the Red Wings scored just two regulation-time goals.
What made those games stand out was that Detroit's record that season was 57-13-8 in its other 78 games.
But the team has adjusted its scheduling to allow for more down time after coming home from the West Coast. In 2005-06, the Wings had just one day in between three trips east and two days off on the other trip.
Last season, Detroit went 3-0-1 in the first games back from the West Coast and added two three-day breaks to its schedule. This season, Detroit has breaks of two, three, five and six days after trips to the West Coast.
The days off before returning home might have made the trip west more difficult for some players than the trip east.
"It's a little bit harder to go out there," said Kopecky. "When you come back home, you get a couple of days to adjust. When you go out there, we usually fly in the day before the game. First day (after traveling) is always harder, but you've got to deal with it."