• Notebook: Conditioning the Issue on Day One
• Torts Fired Up for Training Camp
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
As the Rangers hit the ice for the first day of training camp on Friday, team captain Chris Drury sounded a serious note in stating that the club absolutely cannot repeat the same mistakes it made last season if it plans on making a run into the playoffs this season.
“The only thing worse than going through that as a team would be not learning from it,” Drury said of the Rangers’ missing the postseason a year ago. “When you go through something bad as a team and you don’t learn from it, and you don’t come out better for it, then that’s strike three as far as I’m concerned.”
The fact that the Rangers nearly made the playoffs with a strong push to the wire that ended in a shootout loss in the final game of the season last year was of no consolation to Drury during the off-season. The end result was still that the Blueshirts were on the outside looking in at the Stanley Cup playoffs.
|Rangers captain Chris Drury said he can already see a mindset at training camp that is focused on avoiding the pitfalls of a 2009-10 season that left the team just one point out of a playoff position. |
“It was probably one of the worst summers I ever had,” said Drury, who will be entering his third season as captain of the Rangers and his fourth overall with the Blueshirts. “It really just shows you how important every single point is and every single game is. We must learn not to give away points at any point during the season.”
Drury’s sentiments echoed those of head coach John Tortorella, who on Thursday stressed that the Rangers need to play much more consistently this season as opposed to last. A year ago, the Rangers raced to a 7-1-0 start and closed with a 7-1-2 flourish, but struggled in between to finish with an overall record of 38-33-11 and in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
From what Drury has seen and heard the past few weeks when the Rangers have been taking part in informal group workouts at the MSG Training Center, he believes that the players are determined to put together a solid 2010-11 campaign.
“The guys are committed to reaching our goals,” said Drury, who had 14 goals and 32 points in 77 games a year ago. “I think we have already seen it, too. Guys have been here early. They are committed to these (conditioning) tests and being in the best shape we can be in. It’s always a good sign to get off in the right direction, and I think that’s what we’ve done.”
Drury and his teammates took part in a pair of grueling conditioning tests on Friday. In the morning and early afternoon, with the players spread out in four equal groups of 15, each player had to sprint three laps around the rink, and had to do so six times, while being timed by the staff.
Each sprint lasted between 38 and 41 seconds, according to Tortorella, and each player had roughly two minutes between sprints.
“There’s no way to avoid that test being horrible,” defenseman Marc Staal
said with a laugh. “It’s just brutal.”
Although 34 years old and one of the elder statesmen on the Rangers, Drury turned in an impressive performance during the three-lap test.
“I want to check what my times were before I say anything,” joked Drury after finishing his test. “It’s a hard test, for sure, but it’s designed to get the most out of you, and that’s a good thing.”
In the early evening, the players took part in a two-mile run with the goal of a 12-minute finish time established by Tortorella.
“That run is not easy by any stretch of the imagination,” said defenseman Michael Del Zotto
. “But we do it together and it really brings the guys together because everyone is pulling for each other, encouraging each other.”
This early-season bonding is important in the eyes of the Rangers captain. And he is already seeing the players bond in a determined way to make sure that the Blueshirts are a playoff team once again this year.
“Guys are talking about last year and not wanting to be in that position again,” said Drury. “Now individually and as a team we have to learn from our mistakes and not make them again.”