Giants to focus on the next 10 nights
By Ian Walker, Vancouver Sun
February 20, 2009
Mike Berube says his Giants will have to be 'efficient' this week.
Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver SunNEXT GAME
Tonight vs. Kelowna Rockets
7:30 p.m. at Pacific
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Efficiency. It's a term usually reserved for board meetings and bean counters, not a locker room and junior hockey players. No wonder then, it was received with a raised eyebrow when the word was seamlessly integrated into a sentence by Vancouver Giant Mike Berube on Thursday.
The overage defenceman was describing the Giants' approach to their busiest stretch of games in franchise history. Tonight's home game against the Kelowna Rockets is the first of eight in 10 nights for the Western Conference and B.C. Division leaders.
And no, Berube wasn't wearing a suit and tie at the time.
"It's important for us to take it one game at a time, but be efficient in all of them," said Berube, prior to the Giants' afternoon practice at their Ladner training centre. "It's tough playing a lot of games in such a short stretch, but we need to be up for it. The mental side is just as important as the physical. If you're strong mentally, the body will follow. If you're weak mentally, the body will be weak also. The key is to stay focused."
You don't need Power Point to understand what Berube is selling. The Giants need to perform to the best of their abilities, but with the least amount of wasted effort in order to counter the effects of so little down time between now and the end of the regular season.
"We can't be taking penalties and we can't be overloading certain players," said Giants head coach Don Hay. "If we don't have everyone contributing every night it comes at the risk of taxing our top players"
Vancouver enjoyed a lazy start to the season with its first 36 games in 101 nights. The team's second half has the Giants playing every other night, with 36 games in 72 days. Vancouver will have just four practice days between now and the end of the Western Hockey League's regular season on March 14.
"I was shocked when I looked at the schedule to plan the rest of the year and saw we only have eight days off in total," said Hay. "But every team plays 72 games in the time frame and we all have to deal with the same thing. We've been preparing for this all season -- it's less about coaching and more about managing the lessons and habits we've learned. The details should be ingrained by now. It's about getting the right amount of off-ice, on-ice and recovery time."
The scheduling situation is not unique to the Giants. The Rockets open a six-game-in-nine-night road trip tonight, after suffering back-to-back losses against the conference's bottom feeders this week.
The Rockets led 3-0 early in the first period against the Chilliwack Bruins, only to lose 4-3 in a shootout on Wednesday.
The loss clinched Vancouver its fourth consecutive B.C. Division title.
The Giants (48-5-1-3) lead the Rockets (35-20-1-3) by 26 points in the standings and are 5-1 against their division foes in the seasons series.
Kelowna does expect to have forward Jamie Benn back in the lineup after a case of strep throat forced him to miss the last game.
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