By Cameron Walsh
The Penguins Physically: A look ahead to 10-11.
Our wonderful Metzer spied this manual in one of player’s stalls at the final media day this year. I really wanted to get my hands on one of these babies; I would love to know what Mike Kadar has planned for the team to do in the off season.
Especially specifically for each player, it got me thinking, why not have a bit of a go myself at some of the physical aspects of some of the players abilities we all saw last season and break it down into an off-season conditioning aspect.
Let’s be honest this will be the first time in 2 years the players will really get a chance to work properly on any glaring physical aspects they want to improve on. As a rule it takes 6-8 weeks to see any major muscle gain or change in body mechanics and about the same for any real noticeable cardiovascular improvement.
We could have a look at every player on the 09-10 roster but we are not going to have everyone back. I thought I would have a look at some of the key players who had things, that for me, really stuck out over the course of the year that they can look at to improve (physically/body mechanically) on and get a really good base for a great 2010-11 season.
Often this season Malkin got bumped off the puck too easily and this made him look disinterested in the game. An improvement in his core strength will help lower his center of gravity and hopefully reduce this from happening. On top of this getting stronger through Geno’s upper body especially through his back and shoulders to help with his face-offs and also make that slapshot at the top of the circle that much more potent.
As far as Mr. Crosby lifted his game last year, you know he is always looking to take it to another level. Last off-season he came back with a lethal shot and improved face-offs. What next? I would hope he could improve his tank; he works so hard each shift he finds it hard to go longer than 60 seconds per shift at his intensity. I’m not even sure if it is possible due to the way he plays the game in the corners so deep in each zone, but if he is able to extend his shifts out to 75 seconds almost double shifting on the same shift, Sid’s value goes up so much more.
I started writing this blog before the NHL Awards, obviously with you guys getting to read this now, I have got a chance to hear a few things around the awards from a few interviews that Jordan has answered. I was very interested to see what Staal has been able to handle over the course of the off season due to his foot injury and amazing come back in the playoffs. Aren’t hockey players great *cough baseball cough*. At the moment Staal is currently in that moon boot he was supposed to be in when he got his tendon lacerated against the Canadiens and from the sounds of his interview with Rob Rossi Staal is having issues with his toe and has been unable to train over this off season like he would have wanted to. Below is what I had written before the Awards ‘Update’.
Staal is starting to ‘grow’ into his body, it wouldn’t surprise me if he comes back after the summer having worked hard on his upper body and gotten bigger. He should be stronger in his core and upper body. I would hope he also has stronger forearms to help with his wrist shot and work with his stick in face-offs.
Due to Kunitz’s physical nature of play a lot of his work in the off season may be just trying to get his body back to 100%. So he may be rehabbing his ‘lower body’ injuries he constantly gets. After this it would be strengthening around these problem areas and improving his cardiovascular ability. Most of the time the injuries Kunitz is suffering from are over stretching injuries from muscles being worked too hard with a lack of oxygen in the blood stream or too much lactic acid in the muscles. So Kunitz needs to get his cardiovascular fitness to its best level it has been since being a Penguin.
Will be looking to improve his upper body strength to help protect that shoulder some more. He will also be looking to improve on his cardiovascular levels; you can tell he never got to the level he wanted in 09-10.
As much as Tangradi has progressed this year in WBS, the step to the NHL will be a big one. Especially for a guy who is going to be expected to sit in front of the net and take a physical punishment on one of the top two lines. Tangradi will need to continue to develop his upper body and core strength. Improvement in his cardiovascular fitness will be vital he won’t want to hit that rookie wall around 55-65 games, he will be on a playoff bound team and will need to be up to playing close to 100 games. Tangradi’s anaerobic fitness will need to be at an all time high also, he will have to do more second and third efforts than he has before in his career.
Brooks looks like he will be the Penguins minutes leader next season with the pending departure of Sergei Gonchar. Due to this Orpik will need to increase his cardiovascular fitness, most likely his anaerobic fitness so he can repeat his efforts more frequently. Not that Orpik was deficient in this area, just that he will need to step up from where he was last year to handle the extra responsibility of the extra minutes. There will need to be an improvement in core strength too as Brook’s will be coming back from a sports hernia and this will help stop this injury from repeating itself.
Kris has shown a propensity for throwing the big hit throughout his short career, usually along the boards already in motion or in open ice. However when along the boards stationary or in tight near the crease, Letang can be pushed around. Getting stronger through Letang’s core and upper body will allow Kris to push back and advance his game in the back third, an area that was exposed occasionally this past year.
‘Gogo’ is similar to Letang in that he needs to improve his upper body and core strength to not get pushed around in the back end. Too many times last year he just got pushed off the puck when stationary. Also as the season went along Go Go became No Go, as his tank just ran out, hopefully over the course of the off season he builds up that tank and won’t run out gas this next season. Often skill errors are made due to physical fatigue causing metal errors, Go Go seemed to make a lot of those in the last 20 games.
The Flower seemed to move around a lot this year; looked in position, then drift off his angle in the net. Functionally (in a physical sense) that would suggest a core that was not strong enough to handle the force of his lateral push with those legs, we know you don’t need much of a hole for a puck to find a home behind you in the net. Strengthening in the core muscles and also keeping the glutes strong and hamstrings strong so we still see those great pad flashes would be ideal!
‘Johnny’ should really work on his cardiovascular fitness over the off season. I say this basically in the hope the penguins play him more often than they did this year. Fleury seems to be at his sharpest with a 50-60 game workload not a 60-70 game workload. So Johnson should technically get ready to play more games this upcoming season. As with any goalie, lower body strength exercises are very important, especially glute and hamstring muscles.
Like I said guys, these are just my ideas, nothing more, let me know what you think and ask away, that is what the comment section is for, hopefully I can answer away and if not I will go and find the answer, that is why I’m here.
**Melbourne, Australia’s own Cameron Walsh is a personal trainer by trade, he owns and operates dLuxe Health and Fitness. Walshy is a life long hockey/NHL/Penguins fan and he will be chiming in from time to time on various injuries that pop up in and around this game that we all know and love. He also bears a striking resemblance to the USS Hal Gill… just saying…