Today was a good day at the rink for the rookie crew with the notible exception of an injury to Cann.
Dan Laperriere, assistant coach to Quinn at Lake Erie ran the practice today. Quinn stood around not saying much to anyone and Deader was on the ice to bang his stick for laps and good shots on goal. Laperriere continued to run a no nonsense camp but things seemed to have relaxed considerably since Wednesday.
First, during 3 v 1 drills Duchene let loose a hard wrist shot that caught Cann right under his chin. He doesn't wear that Patrick Roy plastic deal under his mask. The puck missed his mask, missed his chest guard and seemed to have nailed him in the throat. He was down for quite a bit and was helped to the dressing room. He could have anything from a serious bruise to a broken collar bone. He never came back. I hope he's healthy but if not, that opens the door for Billy Sauer to make the Lake Erie team.
Like Justin is a goalie nut, I'm a bit of a defenseman fan. Today was a big day for the D because we finally got to see them do some 1 v1 drills as well as 5v5 & 4v4 full contact scrimmages. They weren't exactly laying the wood to guys but they were able to take the body and move forwards around. Anyway, the forwards vs defenseman 1v1 drills consisted the of the defense starting at a stand stil at the faceoff circle with the forward at the goal line. At the whistle the forward raced down the ice while the defenseman had to use basically a power crossover to gain speed as fast as possible. They had to do that back to their own blue line and then the forward could start to make his moves in the zone to try and score. This drill really exposed some of the rookie defensemen. Guys like Chouinard, Finn, O'niel and even reportedly great skaters like Montgomery looked pretty poor in the drill. The standout in drills and scrimmage was Ryan Wilson. Wilson is a very good skater and his stride isn't rushed or forced. He's got a real active poke check. Macias is another guy who's transition skating looked really uncomfortable for him. He gives up a lot or room to the opposing forward. Gaunce isn't fancy but he's really rock solid in his positioning. He's physical in front of his goaltender. Peltier, Elliot and to a lesser extent Barrie did OK.
With an actual scrimmage to run, instead of shinny with the vets you actually got to see a little pro style hockey. Immediately you could see the guys who are comfortable in a physical game. Gaunce and Wilson on defense for sure. Dupuis thrived in the scrimmages, just played his game and didn't let the contact effect what he wanted to do. He made several dandy plays and has a real accurate heads up shot. Yip finally got to showcase a little of what he's all about by laying the body to guys and creating turnovers. Mercier slipped through the rough stuff and seemed to thrive in that environment as well. Galiardi continues to display his NHL readiness by doing what he wants without dancing around congestion or checks. O'Rielly was strong but he's not a puck possession guy through the neutral zone, he's certainly more of a below the face-off dot possession forward from what I can tell so far. Stoa was pretty making simple plays but pretty darned quiet. Duchene was his usual ball of energy. He's got good feet for the puck when he's got a bouncing puck or a pass in to his skates. He's making passes guys aren't prepared for or can't handle. I've a hunch if those passes are to Hejduk he's be making things happen. All in all I'd say the biggest winner in the scimmage session today was Dupuis. On defense I'd give the nod to Gaunce with Wilson right there.
Watched Wolski feeding some passes to Quincy after the rookies were done. Wolski would feed a pass from the left side to Quincy on the right side for one timers. Quincy has a NASTY one timer, very accurate. I watched Wolski for a while and he's obsessed with stick handling. He does drill after drill with weaving the puck in a pattern. He seems eager to feed pucks to other guys on shots and almost reluctant to practice shooting himself. I know I'm going way in to the Dr. Phil psyco-analysis here but Wolski seems like a guy that is ill suited for the wing. He's not an enthusiastic shot maker. He's looking to pass first and shoot second. I think that mentality has to change a bit if he's going to make this jump that everyone is waiting for.
Anderson was on the ice making a more enthusiastic effort on saves against Stewart and Bates. He looks a lot bigger in net than Budaj, Raycroft or Theo. He looks really solid and comfortable against the posts. You know how Budaj would look like he's performing some painful Pilates move when he was trying to seal every possible hole on the post? Anderson just overlaps his leg pad on the post and gets ready to push over. He just looks big and comfortable in there. He's not overly social though. Stewart was laughing it up and doing tip drills with Bates and just fooling around but Anderson didn't seem interested in participating in any frivolity. He's a serious cat on the ice. Not that it's a bad thing, I tend to remember another goal tender who played for the Avs who was serious as a heart attack about practice.