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#WCH2016: Tortorella wary of over-coaching

by Brian Compton / Columbus Blue Jackets

WASHINGTON -- It's no secret what Team USA coach John Tortorella demands from his players. Conditioning, discipline, the will to compete.

That's why Tortorella admitted after practice at Verizon Center on Monday that it's September and his players are coming in after offseasons of various lengths.

"I do try to keep myself in check as far as over-coaching, but then when you get in the room with the players, you over-coach," said Tortorella, whose team will face Team Finland in a pretournament game for the World Cup of Hockey 2016 here Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN1, TVA Sports). "We over-coach, and if a coach tells you he doesn't, he's a liar. We do because that's just our being, quite honestly, because I think coaches care and they want to prepare their players. But the players, if it's a few minutes there, they'll suck some things in for a few minutes and then they may be looking at you, and you think they're listening but they're really not, so you've got to be really careful how much you give them.

"We're OK. We're OK. Every team's going through it. We're good. We've got a good group of guys. It was a bit of a grind for them today. The ice wasn't that good, which doesn't bother me. I'd rather have them skate on that type of ice because I think it'll help them conditioning-wise. But we're not going to get it all within two weeks here. How much do you give them? That's what I fight every day when we prepare our practices, when we show tape. I showed tape today for a half-hour and I'm saying to myself after, 'Did I touch upon too many things instead of focusing on the most important stuff?' So we fight that every day as coaches."

Tortorella said he liked the pace at the start of practice Monday, but that it "died a little bit" toward the end. He knows the intensity will need to be lifted, and consistent, if Team USA wants to win the World Cup, which gets underway at Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Saturday.

"We're trying to get them to play quicker," Tortorella said. "It's just one of the most interesting things I fight it every day. How much do we push as far as practice? How much do we give them with the video? And what are they comprehending? I'm sure all the coaches are going through it as they get ready for the tournament to start."

GOOD FIRST TEST: Team USA split two games against Team Canada last weekend, which gave it a gauge of how it matches up with what many believe to be the favorite to win the tournament.

"It's tough to go back-to-back early like that," goalie Cory Schneider said. "You play Canada, arguably the best team in the tournament right now, so I think you get into that feeling right away and you know what to expect. You're not going to be surprised by anything once the tournament starts."

"We're going to see them in the preliminary round so it was good to see them ahead of time. But I think obviously we're pretty familiar with their talent level and what they bring. I think it's just getting that intensity, getting that playoff feel to it. I think the first game was pretty up-tempo, the second game obviously maybe a little bit more sluggish on the back-to-back. But I think playing against the best prepares you the best."

HOME OF THE BRAVE: After practice, Team USA players and coaches headed to Marine Corps Base Quantico, in Triangle, Virginia, where they were scheduled to meet those who protect the country from the war against terrorism.

"I've never been," Tortorella said. "Just to see the people. To me, there's going to be a lot of different things the players are going to be able do, (but) I just want to meet the people. They're the real people. They do the real stuff. To see how they train, just to listen to how they train, and the most interesting thing to me is their mind, because they're selfless. They're fearless.

"I'd like to see some of our players just to see what they do as far as training. They think we work hard as NHL players in practice and the conditioning, it's not even close."

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