CALGARY - On a night when he wasn't playing in a game, Brandon Bollig watched two NHL playoff games simultaneously — one on television and another on his tablet.
The burly Calgary Flames forward is like other hockey fans who think the first round of NHL playoffs is the most wonderful time of the year. If he's not playing, there are multiple games to watch every night.
"I don't think it's hockey overload," Bollig said. "You sit back and watch and enjoy it and know it's not you getting banged around out there."
Bollig will be the one getting banged around out there Thursday when the Flames are in Vancouver for Game 5 of their first-round series. The Flames lead the best-of-seven round three games to one.
An unscientific survey of some players in the playoffs indicated varying degrees of interest in other series. It was everything from Bollig's all-in approach to watching parts of some games to just checking scores.
"I'll peek in and see how the game is going or just kind of check in on my phone," said Bollig's teammate Joe Colborne. "Watching those games, it's fun hockey but before you know it, it's 11:30 and you should be in bed."
Many players will cheer on former teammates or teams they once played for in the post-season.
"I know P.K. Subban (in Montreal), I know Matt Beleskey on Anaheim so I watch them all year and we kind of keep in touch. But kind of watch whatever game is on really," Vancouver forward Shawn Matthias said.
"It is an intense time of year. You're constantly thinking about next game, but it's good to watch other games to see how the other series are going, see what kind of playoff hockey they're playing."
There were players in the Calgary-Vancouver series watching on a night off earlier this week when the Winnipeg Jets hosted their first playoff game in 19 years.
Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack tuned in for a period to see the atmosphere at the MTS Centre, but then shut the game off in his Calgary hotel room. He says he wouldn't dream of staying up for overtime.
"Obviously I'm kind of a big hockey nerd, so I kind of try to follow what's going on," Lack said. "Sometimes I think it gets to be a little bit too much. My sleep is very important at this time of the year."
Even if Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau didn't feel like watching other playoff games — and he does — there's someone else in his house who wants the games on.
"I watch every game when we're not playing," Boudreau said in Winnipeg. "I mean, what else do I have to do? It's my job watching the games so I can talk sort of half-intelligent with you guys about the games and what's going on.
"I'll sit at home and my wife will say, 'Let's get the game on.' She says, 'I'm a hockey wife, we've got to do this.' So if I'm not interested in watching it, she's forcing me to watch it."
Montreal Canadiens winger Dale Weise actually ups his game-watching in the post season.
"It's just more exciting," Weise said in Montreal. "I don't watch a lot of games in the regular season, for whatever reason, but playoffs is just a different animal. I'll watch any game. I'm kind of flicking through the channels back and forth between periods."
Calgary forward Mason Raymond says he's not as extreme as Bollig. Spending some quality family time on a precious evening off impacts how much playoff hockey he watches.
"I've got kids," Raymond said. "I've got other needs to take care of, but of course I've been following. This is our livelihood. I'm not sitting there watching games live, but obviously I'm (checking) scores and seeing how things are going."
The intensity of hockey and the media microscope ramps up in the post-season, but Bollig says watching other games is an escape from that pressure.
"It's a lot easier to sit back and watch and have no influence on the game," Bollig explained. "As a fan and as a player on another team, you want certain teams to win because you might think you match up better against some teams."
Stephen Whyno in Winnipeg and Lisa Wallace in Ottawa contributed to this story
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