It’s always good to see the Nashville Predators take to the ice. The smell of salty-sweet conditioned air provided by the ghost white surface of the rink. Players walking around in matching gold shirts that emphasize “Together” on their backs. And last but not least, conditioning exercises to let the staff know just how hard the players may or may not have worked over the summer. Such are the days of training camp where lines are shuffled, chemistry is built and decisions that could elevate or motivate are made.
The first exercises culminated around shuttle jumps or the standstill leaps forward from facing right to front, facing left to front, and a standing long jump. All players from rookies to veterans must participate and through the nine o’clock to noon schedule, the longest leap went to Jerred Smithson who far exceeded many of the others both in sideways and standing jumps. Then comes the medicine ball throw from a seated position with legs out. No arching of the back allowed, just a violent thrust of forearm and bicep and away it goes. Legwand had the most fun with the staff and the awaiting media, but he backed it up with the longest throw of the morning.
Then comes what most players fear…the bag skate portion of the workout….what some would call the hockey equivalent of “Suicides.” It involves a skate from the goal-line out to center ice. Then a turn around a cone and back to the nearest blue-line, around another cone then across the full length of the ice and behind the goal. Then back down the ice around the opposite goal and finishing at that zone’s blue-line. It is intense and it’s a conditioning exercise that really shows what each player is capable of and how they can pace themselves while still putting up consistent times. The only difference occurs when a defenseman takes the ice and they have to backward skate from the first cone to the second cone and after they go behind the first goal, once they get to the face-off dot, they have to turn backwards and skate to the opposing blue-line then turn around to facing forward for the rest of the drill. It is semi-confusing, but defenders have to show how fast they are going forward and reverse since it is a part of their game.
For the defense between nine a.m. and noon there was Jack Hillen, Kevin Klein (only got his last two times), and Jonathan Blum. Here are the results on average:
Hillen – 25.72 sec.
Blum – 26.32 sec.
Klein – 26.06 sec. (est)
Hillen put up the fastest individual lap at 23.82 and had impressive speed backwards skating and looked very fluid.
The forwards in this time slot were Jordin Tootoo, Patric Hornqvist, Colin Wilson, Cal O’Reilly, Matt Halischuk, Blake Geoffrion, and Mike Fisher. Here are their results on average:
Tootoo – 25.08 sec.
Hornqvist – 24.59 sec.
Wilson – 24.52 sec.
O’Reilly – 25.15 sec.
Halischuk – 25.20 sec.
Geoffrion – 25.32 sec.
Fisher – 25.64 sec.
The forwards looked fairly consistent except for one skater, Matt Halischuk. I spoke with Matt for a second before he hit the ice and got taped up with heart monitors and other tracking devices.
I asked, “So..what do you think about the nickname some people are giving you?” He said, “What nickname might that be?” I said “Hustle-chuk.” He laughed and said “I haven’t heard that one yet.” I said, “Well, not trying to put undue pressure on you before you go and do this thing.” Laughing he said..”Nah…it’ll be o.k.,” and with that he went out and posted the fastest lap time of the day at 22.67 seconds beating Tootoo’s mark of 23.03. Unfortunately, Halischuk may have worn himself out with that lap because his overall time suffered.
Be on the lookout for more training camp coverage from Kris. And if you haven’t been to a training camp check out Dirk at http://www.ontheforecheck.com/2011/9/15/2428186/nashville-predators-training-camp-schedule-roster to find a time to go out over the next two weeks and watch the Nashville Predators practice only a few feet away.