Gulls Already in Playoff Prep Mode

AHL post-season berth in hand, San Diego still has work to do

On Saturday night the Gulls lost to the Bakersfield Condors 3-1 but since the Stockton Heat also lost it means San Diego secured its 2nd straight playoff berth. So despite the result, the post-season must have been a great thing to talk to the team about right?

“No,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “We’re not really worried about that. We’re worried about our game.”

Not even a little bit of excitement? Maybe one bottle popped?

“I mean that’s not the way we wanted to clinch a playoff spot,” said forward Nick Kerdiles, who scored the lone Gulls goal in Saturday’s setback. “But we’re happy. We worked hard to get a playoff spot so to finally get it is good news.”

For the Gulls reaching the post-season is just another step in the process. This team has plenty of talent and an NHL-caliber coach in Eakins. Now they find themselves in a bit of an interesting position.

There are still eight games left so they have the option of resting guys and setting themselves up to peak as the playoffs begin. But they also have a shot at earning the top seed in the Western Conference, which would mean home ice throughout.

So Eakins has to walk that exceedingly delicate line between preserving players and trying to win as much as possible.

“We’ve already been trying to do that we’ve had guys in and out of the lineup,” said Eakins. “Some of it is competition. Some of it’s not great play and some of it has been we’re just giving guys a rest. We’ll keep an eye on the guys’ recovery as we move forward for sure.”

If players do break down it won’t be because they’re worn out after the grind of the season. It’ll be because on an injury. From the day training camp started the Gulls have closely monitored their players’ fitness levels to avoid burning out. It seems to be working.

“We’re in extremely good shape,” said Kerdiles. “We don’t go the longest in practice but we work the hardest, we know that. I know our guys are fresh and we’ve got those legs so I think we’re just ready to keep rolling.”

Eakins has his players wear heart rate monitors during practice to make sure they’re going hard enough … but not too hard. He also makes sure to track their hydration and sleep levels to make sure they are operating at optimal capacity. Eakins says being dehydrated by just 3%-5% can be the difference in a 1-goal game.

“Everything they do is for a reason,” said veteran defenseman Nate Guenin. “They give us days off so we’re well-rested so we can practice hard and be ready for games. I think the group trusts the staff 100%.”

The regular season ends on Saturday, April 15 at home against Ontario. After that the sprint to the Calder Cup begins.

Contact Us