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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Don’t expect to see any pucks on the ice for the first two days of training camp for the Rangers. Those first two days, as per head coach John Tortorella’s mandate, are used exclusively for testing the players’ conditioning levels.
|John Tortorella |
On Friday, players took part in a three-lap sprint test, which was repeated six times with two-minute intervals. In the early evening they also had a two-mile run scheduled.
When the first group of players took to the ice in the morning, pucks were placed on top of each net by the staff. Loosening up on the ice with his players, Tortorella took one of the pucks, turned to Erik Christensen, and said with a laugh, “What are these things doing out here? What do we need them for?”
Pucks will be put back into use on Sunday when the first training camp scrimmages are scheduled to be played.
A new experience for Zuccarello
Training camp in North America is already quite different than training camp in Sweden, according to winger Mats Zuccarello
. And that has nothing to do with the exhausting skate Zuccarello and his new teammates went through on Friday.
“In Sweden you have your 20 players (in camp) and that’s your team already,” said Zuccarello, who signed as a free agent with the Rangers this past summer after starring with MODO in the Swedish Elite League previously. “There is no battle for spots. It’s not like here where everyone is battling. Here you have to show you want to be with the team because there is much more competition.”
Zuccarello admitted that he will have to get used to the different type of training camp, as well as a smaller ice surface, in the NHL. He also is aware that he will have to be much more defensively responsible. But he is confident that he will adapt quickly.
“I am coming here with an open mind,” said Zuccarello. “I am also coming here to try and make the team; but if not then I will keep working at it.”Lundqvist, Gaborik not on ice Friday
Neither Henrik Lundqvist
nor Marian Gaborik
took part in the on-ice conditioning test Friday. Tortorella explained that Lundqvist had “a tender groin” and Gaborik was limited by “a sore back”.
Neither ailment is considered serious, with Tortorella emphasizing that keeping each player off ice was strictly precautionary. In fact, Tortorella pointed out that Lundqvist took part in an extensive off-ice workout instead on Friday and would return to the ice Saturday morning.
Gaborik actually suited up and planned to take the test with the first morning group, but the training staff decided it was best for him not to push things. Tortorella said that Gaborik will take his test at another point during training camp.
As for the overall conditioning of the players, Tortorella was quite impressed with what he saw.
“We have a good group of guys as far as conditioning,” said Tortorella. “No one was lights out, but more importantly to me was that no one really fell off. I think the conditioning level in the camp is pretty good.”