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Staying in shape

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- With the Calgary Flames sitting a mere two points out of a playoff position, the team is going to have to be firing on full throttle after coming back from the NHL All-Star break.

Returning ready for a fierce battle in the stretch drive requires utilizing their time off in the most effective manner and the team relies on their training staff to develop appropriate training regimes to keep the players in optimum condition.

"Rich (Hesketh) will give us a little sheet of things to do. It won't be anything too strenuous," said forward Tim Jackman, who is heading home North Dakota to spend some time ice fishing. "It'll just stretch the body and get us sweating a bit, staying active."

Hesketh, who is the Flames strength and conditioning coach, is resolute in his belief that rest needs to be the players first priority when it comes to breaks during the season.

"Clearly, the main focus is recovery," he told CalgaryFlames.com. "At this time of year, we're pretty banged up."

He added that rest cannot be the only objective during the players down time.

"I'll give them a guideline of what we're looking for each day and give them a focus. There are a couple of optional days where it's either some light aerobic capacity or a workout. The other thing we do is make sure they're getting a lifting session in.

"It's nothing that is crazy. We're not going to try to get any kind of fitness acquisition born. It's more of active recovery, more of staying active. A fit body needs to move to feel good so we're going to try and stay on top of that."

Heading into the All-Star break, Calgary had strung together four straight victories and have earned points in nine of their last 10 games. This situation makes the timing of the break slightly frustrating for the club but the players still appreciate the down time.

"It'd be nice to push the break back a bit given the position we're in," chuckled pivot Matt Stajan. "That being said, the time off is a good thing. You've got to rest, your body needs the rest."

Stajan is firm believer that adequate recovery time is essential for any team that wants to wrack up points during the stretch drive.

"Rest is a weapon. You can over-train. We go, go, go all year and you do have to have a few days of down time. As a player, you've got to use the time wisely and make sure you come back ready to go because it's the stretch run. Every game is important from here on in. It is already but it's even more emphasized after the break."

Over-training is an issue Hesketh has discussed with the team, cautioning his charges of the dangers of over-extending oneself over an 82-game season.

"It can if you do it right. If you try and push yourself too much, you can come out the other side feeling pretty beat up. If you do it right, not going too crazy with the exercise but still being on top of active recovery, it'll definitely give you a jump on the way in."

Thankfully, having players disregard his regimes is something that does not even enter Hesketh's mind.

"These guys are well-disciplined and we've talked about it. Even with the head coach, they've said that no one is going to go that far often the beaten path at this point because we want to come back and make a big push here in the second half."

Stajan echoed that statement and couldn't fathom any of his teammates blatantly disregarding conditioning regimes, especially at such a crucial point of the campaign.

"Everyone in here is 100 per cent committed. Everyone wants to come back primed and ready to go," he said. "You don't want to come back way out of shape because you get right at it a day or two later. Everybody is different, based on your body type, but you do have to take the rest. Come March, it's going to be important your body is where it needs to be."

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