Penguins can always count on Craig Adams in the lineup



Some things seem as if they never change. Craig Adams being in the Penguins lineup, for example.

Other things don’t stay the same. For instance, Adams’ training regimen that has helped him put together an ironman streak that is expected to reach 263 games when the Penguins play tonight at Buffalo.

“I would like to think that the training that you do from the beginning, however far back that goes, is part of your foundation, is part of what is able to keep you healthy,” said Adams, who often plays right wing on the fourth line, sometimes centers that line and occasionally sees some time on the third line.

But he always plays, game after game, dating to Oct. 16, 2010, when he was a lineup scratch for a game against Philadelphia. His is the fourth-longest streak of consecutive games played in club history.

“If you’re looking at guys on our team for taking care of themselves and being in shape, preparing, I don’t think you’re going to find one better than Craig, from his off-ice [training] in the summertime to what he does during the season,” coach Dan Bylsma said, adding that Adams devoted an extra 20 minutes on the ice after practice Tuesay to working on his game.

Adams has some grit, ranking fourth on the team with 117 hits. He ranks first among the Penguins forwards with 45 blocked shots. He is one of the top penalty-killers on a team that ranks first in the NHL in penalty-killing at 87.7 percent.

“He’s a card-holder for tough and determined grit on our team,” Bylsma said.

One thing Adams is not, is a goal-scorer. He has three goals among his seven points this season, but those goals came in the first four games, and he has none in the past 52.

The fact that the fourth line has not contributed heavily on offense is a factor on Adams’ team-worst plus-minus rating (minus-9). And a contributing factor to that is rampant personnel turnover on the fourth line.

“With the injuries we’ve had, it hasn’t been very consistent,” Adams said. “I don’t think it helps.

“But, at the same time, that’s the way it is. You can’t worry too much about it. You play with whoever you’re out there with. Maybe there isn’t that chemistry there necessarily, but everyone knows what they need to be doing and they’re playing well. There are no excuses.”

Adams, claimed off of waivers in March 2009, doesn’t care for excuses when it comes to training, either.

While teammates Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang are better known for their extensive offseason workouts, Adams, 36, keeps himself in top shape with a workout routine that has evolved.

“You learn things,” Adams said. “Some things you keep, and some things you put aside and add something new. It’s more of a mishmash of things you’ve learned over the last, I guess, 20 years. You’re always kind of looking to improve and get more efficient.”

So efficient that he is resilient and apparently has a high pain tolerance.

“He’s played with injuries that keep other people out for weeks,” Bylsma said. “Two years ago, he had a knee injury, and we were playing Chicago the next day. We got the word from the doctors what his injury was. He said, ‘I’ll be fine. I’ll be able to play.’ And sure enough, he did.

“He’s had a couple of those this year as well, whether it’s a blocked shot or whatever else. He’s been able to play right through it and with it.”

Adams has been a sponge around physical therapists, conditioning coaches, other players, and he incorporates bits of what he sees into his regimen.

“There are trends,” he said. “I don’t like to swing too wildly in the direction of whatever is in fashion. Things come and go, but there are certain things that stay.

“In general, the whole business of training for hockey has evolved every year. To be honest, I don’t think that 20 years ago people put a whole lot of thought into it. Even if they worked really hard, I don’t know that they were necessarily working smart, efficiently.”

Adams works with personal trainer Scott Umberger (cousin of R.J. Umberger of the Columbus Blue Jackets). They share an interest in always seeking new techniques and workouts.

“He’s constantly evolving, trying to get better, more efficient, more specific, all those things,” Adams said.

“It’s interesting. It will never end. You’ll never get to that point, no matter how old you are, where you say that this is the perfect, right way to train, the right way to do things.

“It’s a constant learning process. I find it interesting. One day, it will be over and I won’t have to worry about it anymore.”

Until then, you know where you find Adams on Penguins game nights.


Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.

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