CHICAGO – Johnny Boychuk considers it second nature when the Boston Bruins are in the playoffs. The aches, the exhaustion, the uncertainty and the pressure of overtime are simply expected.
“Oh, we’ve had so many overtimes in the last couple of years,” said the defenseman. “We’re confident going into overtime. We usually come out on top.”
He’s right: In the last three postseasons, the Bruins are 11-6 in overtime games, which is indicative of their confidence as a former champion, and the fact they’ve played a lot of extra sessions: 33 percent of their playoff games from 2011-13 went to overtime.
It’s even more for the Chicago Blackhawks: Roughly 42 percent of their playoff games in that span went to overtime.
“I think it’s helped us. We know what we need to do in overtime,” said Andrew Shaw of the Blackhawks, who won Game 1 in overtime.
The Bruins and Blackhawks have played three overtime games in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, including that triple-overtime classic in Game 1. The notion that they’ll have another one before the end of this series is far from outlandish – it’s the first Final in 20 years to feature three overtime games, and only the sixth since 1927 to have three extra sessions.
In fact, if two of their remaining games go to overtime, they’ll tie the 1951 record of five between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Play three more, and the 2013 Final will have the most overtime games ever.
At this point, are there any butterflies left fluttering before playing in overtime?
“You probably feel a little more comfortable in overtime, after playing so many games. But it’s still do or die and high pressure,” said Rich Peverley of the Bruins.
Like Peverley, Daniel Paille was on the Bruins Cup-winning team that played five overtime games en route to the championship in 2011.
“I think it comes with the territory,” he said. “Games are going to be tight. They’re going to go to overtime. We don’t get carried away when they do.”
Both teams espouse the same advice for success in overtime games: Puck to the net, scoring dirty goals, shortening shifts and winning draws.
“Well, as I say, practice makes perfect, right?” said Coach Claude Julien. “So I think both teams are getting better at it and used to it. I don't think anybody is shocked going in after the third period, having to play at least another one.”
We asked Julien for a bit more strategy:
Performing well in overtime goes beyond what happens on the ice. It’s what happens in the dressing room, as the players eat and hydrate and get the necessary maintenance to thrive in the extra session.
Remember: It's not just the players that are well-schooled on the ways of overtime.
“Overtime games are tiring. But we have a great staff here that keeps us hydrated and keeps up fit,” said Shaw.
So no, the Bruins and Blackhawks don’t fear overtime. They embrace it as a commonality in the postseason, and something they’re prepared to see again.
“Both teams have seen it many times, and they’re not going to be surprised by anything,” said Tyler Seguin of the Bruins.
Of course, the Boston Bruins might want to see overtime in Game 5 or Game 7 (if necessary): Road teams have won 15 of the past 19 Stanley Cup Final overtime games and are 20-6 since 1990.
“Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t,” waxed philosopher Johnny Boychuk.