West Coast road trips are always an experience for an East Coast hockey team, be it a positive one or a negative. Some teams find themselves stronger and more cohesive at the conclusion of a long road trip. Others find the time difference and travel far too brutal, succumbing to defeat and shattering any momentum they may have had.
WXDX's Mark Madden had Penguins leading scorer (ha!) Matt Cooke on his show Friday afternoon and asked him about what opening the season on a West Coast (with a specifically Western Canadian flavor) road trip was like.
Cooke made a good point that I'm unfortunately unable to transcribe here, as I heard it on the radio and can't find audio of the interview online.
Cooke essentially said that the Penguins' current trip is particularly difficult because not only do they have to deal with the typical travails that a cross-country jaunt of this nature entails, but they also must deal with three emotional home openers for their opposition before even having one of their own.
Even more jarring is that they're not just home openers, but openers in general.
Tonight's game against Calgary will be the Penguins' second in three nights, but the first regular season gamefor the Flames. After the game, the Penguins must fly directly to Edmonton for a game on Sunday, their third in four days, against the Oilers, who will be playing their first.
You'd like to think that fatigue wouldn't be an issue for a team at this early stage of the season, but you have to wonder if conditioning is. Jordan Staal was forced to leave the Penguins' opening game victory over the Vancouver Canucks early due to dehydration, a rare ailment for hockey players to suffer.
It may be early in the season, but proper roster and time management from Dan Bylsma will be vital to ensuring that the Penguins return to Pittsburgh unscathed.