The last time Chris Collins played in a postseason series as a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, he sported a few cuts and a black eye.
That was in 2011, and Collins wouldn’t mind if the same thing happened again. It’s not that Collins likes being beat up. In the playoffs, cuts and black eyes are signs that the gritty third and fourth line players are going full steam ahead.
“Playoffs are hard-nosed hockey,” Collins said. “You definitely ramp it up a couple of notches because we all live and breath for these types of games.”
The grind of a playoff series takes a noticeable toll on all players, but for those on the third and fourth lines - whose job is to bang opponents to spark their club, there is little time for healing.
Battling through injuries is commonplace for players during the regular season. In the playoffs? They hardly notice them.
“There’s no quit in the playoffs, ever,” said fourth line center Zach Sill, who is entering his fourth postseason as a Penguin. “You’re playing more games in a short amount of time and your body doesn’t have as much time to heal. Your body does get banged up, but you put it out of your mind and keep going.”
The Penguins enter the postseason with a roster full of gritty players whose style of play is a perfect fit for the intensity of a playoff game.
Perhaps none is more anxious than rookie Bobby Farnham, who entered this weekend third in the AHL with 250 penalty minutes.
“I’ve been waiting for it all year. The playoffs are gritty, fast, hard games. It really fits my style well,” he said.
As for the pain?
“At that point in the year it doesn’t matter,” Farnham said. “There’s really nothing to save it for at that point. You win you keep going or you lose and your out.”
All season Farnham played a high tempo, agitating style that saw him drop the gloves 20 times. He intends to carry that same style into the playoffs skating on Sill’s fourth line with a focus on creating energy for the rest of the team.
But such an approach often comes with a price, and it’s one that Farnham is prepared to pay.
In fact, there’s only one way an injury will keep Farnham out of a game.
“If you can’t skate. Other than that you should be able to go for the playoffs,” he said. “That’s the mindset.”
And that’s why injuries in the postseason are far different than those that occur in the regular season.
Collins said there may be times during the year that an injury such as a broken toe will keep a player out of the lineup for a bit. It’s a long year, he said, so it’s understandable to give such injuries time to heal.
But in the postseason? Well, Collins has a remedy that works for just about any ache or pain.
“If you’re hurt in the playoff, you numb it up and do what you have to do,” he said. “In the playoffs, I can’t imagine an injury I wouldn’t play through, unless I’m held out by the doctor and I have no choice. It’s like that for all the guys.”