When Paul Maurice is asked about Brandon Montour, one could make a lot of money betting on the Florida Panthers coach using the word ‘fit.’
Since the start of the season, Maurice has marveled at the physical shape of his minute-eating d-man.
Back in October, Aaron Ekblad went down with an injury which left a hole on the Florida blueline. Montour, who averaged just under 18 minutes per game last season, was all of a sudden playing 26, 27 minutes a night.
“He is capable for sure and he is an exceptionally fit guy,” Maurice said in November. “We talked about this the other night in the third period: The amount of hockey he had on him was big and he looked fresh, looked like he could go another period no problem.
“The thing to mindful is he has to go back to a reasonable number when Aaron comes back and we’ll balance things a lot more.”
Yeah, about that.
Montour ended up averaging a career-high 24:07 during the regular season as he got added time as the quarterback of the top power play. That, in turn, led to career highs in goals (16) and a franchise-record 73 points for a defenseman.
In the playoffs, Montour has continued keeping up that scoring pace with 6 goals and 9 points in 13 games. His minutes are now at 28:21.
That number number is obviously skewed by what went down Thursday night in Raleigh.
Montour ended up playing a game-high 57:56 in Florida’s 3-2 win over the Hurricanes in quadruple overtime.
“I didn’t even think about it, surprisingly, the more I went out there and your gear is soaked but I still had some energy,’’ Montour said. “At the end, I was just happy we got the win.”
He did not look any worse for the wear as he took 8 shots on goal while blocking 3.
“He comes back to the bench and he’s fine,” Maurice marveled. “There are unique players with a fitness level and some of it is they’re just different. They can go nonstop. Getting back to that training camp, on Day 3 I had bent them over pretty good and there were some guys who were hurting and he’s out there flying around. ‘You want to go two today?’ His recovery is just incredible.’’
Said Eric Staal: “He was flying. Even at the 50-plus range, he was still moving pretty good. He is in great shape, takes care of himself and is one of those athletes who is a freak athlete. Fun to watch, just a dynamic player. He is very important to us in these playoffs and the whole season. Fun to see him do what he does. When you you’re a teammate, you’re also enjoying watching him just compete. He was important for us, for sure.”
Montour said he had a phone full of messages following the game, many just assuring him they were still up watching the game.
“A lot of them were about the time on ice, (checking) on how I felt,” he said. “A lot of family and friends just saying they stayed up and how tired they were. They couldn’t imagine how we were as players. That’s what we train for. However the game comes, that’s what we do.”
This was not the first long game Montour was part of in his career.
While Thursday’s game was the sixth-longest game in NHL history, Montour was part of the longest game in NCAA history in 2016 when his UMass Minutemen beat Notre Dame 5-4 in five overtimes to open the Hockey East tournament.
Montour had 3 assists in the game to set the school’s record for points by a freshman defenseman.
He did not remember his ice totals for that game, but it was probably a lot.
“I thought about it a little bit,” Montour said Friday. “We went five overtimes and won that won as well. Good on both sides.”
According to NHL stats, Montour was clocked at skating just shy of 9 miles during the game, a number which, predictably, led all skaters.
While Montour joked there was a “lot of gliding” for those miles on the ice, it was still pretty impressive.
“When I was younger I liked to run,” he said, “but not 8 miles.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
PANTHERS (WC2) AT CAROLINA HURRICANES (MET1)
GAME 2 (Panthers Lead 1-0)
- When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
- Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh
- TV: TNT
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, WPOW 95.6 FM2, WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Series Schedule — Game 1: Florida 3, @Carolina 2; Game 2:Saturday at Carolina, 8 (TNT); Game 3: Monday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 4: Wednesday, May 24 at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 5*: Friday, May 26 at Carolina, 8 (TNT); Game 6*:Sunday, May 28 at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 7*: Tuesday, May 30 at Carolina, 8 (TNT). *If Necessary
- Season Series: (Carolina won 2-1): @Florida 3, Carolina 0 (Nov.9);@Carolina 4, Florida 0 (Dec. 30); Carolina 6, @Florida 4 (April 13)
- All-Time Regular Season Series: Carolina/Hartford leads 71-46-10, 11 ties
- Postseason History: First Meeting
- How They Got Here — Carolina: d. New York Islanders in 6; d. New Jersey Devils in 5. Florida: d. Boston Bruins in 7; d. Toronto Maple Leafs in 5.