After a light return to the ice on Wednesday, the Calgary Flames picked up the pace in practice on Thursday with a lengthy skate that lasted over an hour and a half.
It’s time to get back to business, coach Bob Hartley said.
“Today it was quite a marathon and you look at the effort, the guys are having fun,” Hartley said. “That’s what we want to create over here.
“Yesterday was tough. Today was tougher. Tomorrow’s going to be tougher but with no gym. We try to obviously get back to our habits, to our details, to our system but at the same time, we know that we were all basically on vacation.
“It’s not the same thing before September when guys are in the gym or on the ice every day. This is a totally different concept and it puts more responsibilities on us, the coaches, to make sure that yes, we don’t want to get on the ice and be lazy and be ready for next Thursday but at the same time, we don’t want half the team to have pulled groins.”
The lengthy practice wasn’t without injury, though. Early in the skate, Brian McGrattan appeared to catch a rut and crashed hard into the end boards.
Hartley didn’t have an immediate update on his enforcer.
“I didn’t see,” Hartley said. “I guess that from what the players and what Jacques told me, he kind of caught a rut and he just went and basically fell face first into the boards. He was in pretty big pain. Obviously we’ll probably have a report for you guys [Friday] morning.”
Lee Stempniak also left the practice, but the Flames coach confirmed it wasn't a result of injury.
“Lee left for personal reasons,” he said. “He will be gone for a few days. He’s not injured. That was planned.”
PULLING FOR CANADA
The first round of bragging rights go to the Canadians in Calgary’s locker room.
Marie-Philip Poulin scored her second of the game 8:10 into overtime to lift Canada to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory against the United States to capture gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Poulin also scored with 54.6 seconds remaining in the game to force extra time.
“There’s a lot to be proud of there,” Flames forward Joe Colborne said. “I know I’m personally a very proud Canadian right now after watching that. It was one of the biggest celebrations I’ve seen in our weight room.”
Calgary currently boasts 17 Canadians on the roster. Stempniak and Chris Butler comprise the American contingent in the room.
“With a couple minutes left they were sitting pretty high on their horses,” Colborne said. “Payback is going to be nice.”
The win was extra satisfying for Colborne, who played against Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados in the Alberta Junior Hockey League -- Colborne with the Camrose Kodiaks and Szabados with the Fort Saskatchewan Traders
“It doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “I remember how many times she stoned me. It’s not a shock she’s having the success she is now. She was one of the top goalies in Junior A and you don’t see that with female players. She was an all-star. She was awesome. I’m very proud to have said I’ve played against her and extremely happy for her accomplishments.”
Canada and the USA square off again on Friday morning in semifinal action on the men’s side.
“The next 24 games, our big key for us is we want to give us a good swing. You never know what can happen. We’re still in it. Obviously we know that we’re a very long shot so we’re not going to try to fool no one but at the same time, we start on a good streak and you never know what can happen. That’s our challenge.”