Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud will be keeping his own blog throughout the 2023 Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers. He will check in regularly with behind-the-scenes access.
In his second entry, Whitecloud discusses how he’s dealt with the earlier start times in Las Vegas (5 p.m. local time) and what it meant to have his family at T-Mobile Arena for the Golden Knights’ 7-2 victory in Game 2 on Monday.
We’re creatures of habit, so you try not to look into the earlier starts too much because it’s the same for both teams, so you try not to get married to your routine. For example, I just wake up a little earlier. I try to get to bed a little bit earlier and try and keep it as if we were playing at 7 (p.m.). And then that way my body can kind of stay on the same schedule.
You get your nap in, although napping, you know lying down for an 11:30 (a.m.) nap is a little different. So, you just try to manage it and do what feels best. We’ve had a couple of instances this year when we’ve played at 4, 5, 5:30, so you just try to do what works for you and obviously it’s a time you have to adjust.
As for preparing for a Stanley Cup Final game, I’ve learned from Alex Pietrangelo and Alec Martinez and guys that have been through it that the main thing is keeping everything as normal as possible. Don’t start mixing in different things that you normally wouldn’t. So, I get up, I take my dogs for a walk, do all that sort of stuff. I keep my normal routine and eat the same stuff, get the same amount of sleep or at least try to.
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I’m not one of the younger guys anymore, I don’t think, but as you’ve kind of gone through playoff runs you always try to do extra because you always want to be at your best, and you’re always trying to get a leg up on recovery, sleep, and all those sorts of things. But just staying relaxed and enjoying family and decompressing, getting away from the game and sticking to your normal routine has worked for me.
You ask any guy that’s on either team, as they’ve gone throughout their careers, there’s one constant, and it’s family. And we’re not here without their support, their love. For me growing up, my grandma, my auntie, my mom, my dad took a lot of time out of their work schedules and moved things around, and pretty much moved all over the Earth to get me to get me to hockey, to public skates, whatever.
So obviously to have them here, or your grandma watching at home, auntie watching at home, it makes me emotional sometimes because everyone sees us on the ice and they see the players we are and the people we are, but it’s those people in the background that make us who we are. And we’re a product of them. So, it’s cool to be able to play for them and obviously to be on this stage is something I’m grateful for.
As for heading to Florida on Tuesday, it can be easy to look ahead, right, and to look at tomorrow or the next day, or game whatever it is. Living in a moment and enjoying each time is so important at this time of year. Because one, it’s super easy to look back on previous games and look at what you did well or look at what you didn’t do so well, and obviously there’s time for that when we’re, as a team, looking at video and those sorts of things on how to make yourselves better. That’s a separate thing.
But living in the moment and like I said, when you get home, it’s for anyone, you leave work at work and you come home and enjoy your family and try to make things as normal as possible. And then that’s what I’ve tried to do over the years, is get better at that, and it’s a work in progress. I’m human, so let’s say you don’t play so well, it’s because you care. I mean, it’s the same thing with every other profession, if you’re not doing something well at your profession, you get frustrated and sometimes you take it home with you. It’s a work in progress, it’s a learning process, but as things move on, you try to go home, enjoy the family time, decompress a little bit. And then when you come back to work, you’re ready to work.