February 22 practice quotes: Regehr, Richards
Robyn Regehr, on what the focus has been on in practice:
We had a very tough stretch – I think it was about six weeks or something like that – where we didn’t win very many hockey games. It was for a variety of different reasons. There are lots of things that go into a game, whether it’s your power play, penalty kill on the special teams or being good defensively or bearing down offensively, all those things. It just seemed like there was one or two of those missing in each one of those games. So I think the big thing we want to think about now and we’re trying to get to work on in practice is just to pull everything together. We’ve been practicing all the different situations. We’ve had some special teams work. Had some drills where we’re going to the net, trying to bear down offensively and also working in our own zone, being a little bit better in the neutral zone. I think for us, talking to the coaches here a little bit over the break, they want us to be a little bit better in the neutral zone too. We’ve actually done a fairly decent job of coming out of our zone, but if we can manage to make a little bit better plays in the neutral zone, that allows our forwards usually to carry some speed and be a little bit more dangerous when they’re coming into the zone. And maybe we can generate some more chances off the rush, which we don’t normally or haven’t been doing. So I think that’s an element we can add to our game a little.
Regehr, on working together in each zone:
The big thing for us is being together in all three zones. It doesn’t matter what kind of work you’re doing because with the way teams play, everyone is fairly aggressive on the puck and man. So you need to have support, very short little support within there so you can get the puck to other players and you can hopefully open yourself up. So I think that’s a big part of our game, when we’re really playing well, you see all five guys moving up and back on the ice together. You have lots of communication and things are crisp.
Regehr, on creating offensive opportunities:
There are a lot of things that go into creating offense and anyone that’s watching the Olympics has seen it on a little different level, that it’s been very challenging for a lot of very good players. The ice is a little bit bigger there and there are some other challenges, but the teams that seem to be generating more – they have sustained pressure. It’s not come into the zone, get your one shot and they’re going back to other way. You come in, you have a chance, you get the puck back – kind of like rebounding in basketball – you get that puck back. You sustain some pressure and you’re able to then create some, hopefully, confusion with the defensive guys or maybe even fatigue and that way you get some more break downs. So that’s what we were trying to get a little bit better in our game and we’ve got 23 games left. We don’t have very many games left here for the regular season and we really need to ramp things up.
Regehr, on incorporating “systems work” at practice:
The last couple days have been a little bit more. We’re limited with our numbers of players here right now. So that really eliminates some of the drills that you can do because we just haven’t had enough bodies. But the first couple days were just get back onto the ice, trying to feel half decent with your feet and hands and get your head into it. The last couple days have been more what we’re trying to do defensively. What we’re trying to do offensively, working on the neutral zone. Things like that. And as we continue to get more guys back here, we’ll ramp up into a full practice because we’ll just be able to with the bodies.
Regehr, on if he is looking forward to a day off after four days of practice:
Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I think we’ve been working out really hard off the ice with the lifting that we can do right now, because normally during the season – especially with the condensed schedule leading up to the Olympic break – it’s very difficult to get any heavy lifts in. If you’re lifting, it usually had to be light and very quickly. So actually, the four days we’ve lifted quite heavy and get some strength back for us and get ready for the last push for the playoffs here. So I think it’s been good, both on the ice and off the ice. It’s allowed us to work on a bunch of things.
Mike Richards, on what the team has been focusing on in practice:
Just everything, more or less. You have a couple days of practice in, and like I said, you don’t get that very often throughout the year. So it’s just about, one, getting our feet and hands back and just making sure we’re ready for when the season does start back up.
Richards, on the rest of the regular season:
We have a lot of games here in a short period of time to end the season. It’s going to be a sprint to the finish and I think this is the most exciting time to play hockey. We kind of dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, but luckily we haven’t lost too much ground from the people below us, but it will be tough to catch [up] to the people above us. But all you can do is win games and hope for the best.
Richards, on what the focus is on heading into the final part of the season:
Obviously the focus is scoring goals without giving anything else up and it’s a tough challenge. When you’re one of the better teams in the league at goals against, but the challenge is to find that balance. Whether it’s getting more offense and keeping the same defensive mindset. So that’s the challenge and I think we were a little snake bitten before the break and hopefully this time off will get us some energy and relax and come back and play some hockey where we’re loose and we play our best when we’re loose.
Richards, on running systems drills and special teams work with players missing:
It’s not bad. It’s a time to practice and work on some things and get your legs back and that’s about it. It’s not any more challenging without some guys, it’s just a little bit more tiring, conditioning-wise. But it also builds up your conditioning for when the season starts.