Today's going to short (well, Dario short), folks, for a couple of reasons. First, much to the dismay of the fairly large crowd that showed up, there wasn't a vets-rookie scrimmage after the rooks did their drill session. About 15 Avs players got out there to run some drills of their own for an hour or so, but that was about it. The other reason? I decided I was going to watch and enjoy as it was pretty clear the usual suspects were our top guys for day three.
There were a couple of surprises, including Bournival and Choudinard, who finally decided to show up. More after the jump.
There are three drills on which I took notes. The first was one that was very involved, utilizing seven players at any given time and both ends of the ice: two D on each end and three forwards in the middle. It was clearly focused on passing and speed. The second was a breakaway, classic two-on-one. The third I'll fill you in on later...
Carman - Because he was mentioned, I watched him a lot today. He has a very nice top shelf shot that sneaks past as it's very deceptive. He often goes blocker side which I find interesting. He's got some explosive speed, especially going up the middle, and looked great out there today.
Holos - Still looked amazing. What can I say? The boy came to play some hockey. He's got speed, strength, position, passing, confidence. I'm not sure what more we could want in a defender. On the two-on-one drill, he always took away the passing lane. He looked huge, and the attackers had absolutely no room to do anything with the puck nor make any play other than for the shooter to go on net. The second man was obsolete. Every time. Total shut down. It was...mind boggling that someone in an Avs uni (even a practice one) could do that. lol. One thing about him that I don't like is that when receiving passes he often will one time them back to another player. That can work beautifully at times, making the play progress quickly and moving it ahead. But it can backfire, stopping the puck's momentum and letting it kind of flutter towards his teammate. In the NHL, that would equal breakaway. Sorry, Andy...
Elliott - Still a big ball of meh.
Goalies - Just going to lump them into one phrase: HUGE difference - Pickard good, Maxwell bad
Colby Cohen - He just got better and better as the three days went on. I am looking forward to seeing what he does this weekend. He has a hell of a shot from the point which I didn't expect. He was a big, bad beastly man today. I could really see why he's been valued so highly.
Choudinard - Looked much better today, jumping into the play much more quickly and showing some better defensive skill. Stronger on the puck, more aggressive, better shot
Hishon - MUCH faster today, seemed more confident, definitely does better in playmaking, flowing drills and scrimmaging than straight "blow the whistle, pass the puck to the player, shoot the puck" drills. I think he feeds off energy and relies on that quite a bit. Big problem I see, though, is he keeps his head down, looking at the puck, WAY too much. That boy is going to get his clock
cleaned obliterated his first game out there if he doesn't do something about that
Bournival - skating very well. He makes really good decisions with the puck, doesn't get too fancy and gets off his shots quickly. Had a very good day today. Always seemed to be making the play and getting noticed.
Shattenkirk - showed a lot of leadership again, is clearly liked by everyone out there. He has such a great shot; he really does. In one of the drills, they had two players crowding the net front and the guys were letting off one timers from the point. Shatty weaved one perfectly through the players legs, right on target, and Maxwell barely made the stop. With someone like Duchene or Stastny there to tip it in, that would have been a sweet goal. The thing I have really noticed about this guy is how comfortable he already is out there. He skates and plays like he's already on the team and I don't mean that in a bad way. He's not cocky, just confident. It's like he belongs on that ice and he knows it.
Okay, so this was the third drill. It was the same that was done on the first day where the puck was set center ice and two skaters on either side were sent at the same time to gain position on it and take it to the net. The only difference is today they were given the freedom to be physical about it. Bubs put the players' obviously positive reaction to this drill as eloquently as anyone could: "Screw this sissy bullshit; I want to hit someone."
I wish I had gotten some video of it, but I was too enthralled and entertained that I just didn't think of it until after it was over. Sorry! Anyway, the beasts of the brawl, no matter the match up, were:
Zach Cohen - Take the puck and run 'em over. Yup, that works.
Carman - Bitch, give me your lunch money...and your 401(k)!
Bournival - Owned you.
Colby Cohen - Fuck you, and the horse you rode in on, your mother, that bitch you're dating, and whatever else you want to throw in. (He may be hot, but that boy can throw down!)
Match ups that were just pure gold:
Holos and Carman - This is one Carman didn't take outright. It was even the whole way through, both of them fighting hard for the puck the whole way to the net. It was a battle of men and only at the last second did Holos gain control and get a shot off, which was perfectly placed, of course, and ended up in the back of the net. It was a sight to behold.
Shattenkirk and Hishon - "What's up, Hish?" No contest. Hishon had no chance, not even a looksy at that puck. Shatty shoved him right off and away he went.
Guance and Elliott - Guance dipped his shoulder down, got his weight behind him and shoved Elliott right off balance and down he went. Swoop went the puck onto Gaunce's stick and a nice little shot on net was the result. Elliott, you are really not endearing yourself to the brass, my love.
After the official practice was over, about half the guys stayed out on the ice to do some of their own drills. All but three were down at our end of the ice. The three at the other end? Bournival, Shattenkirk and Holos. Watching Shatty and Holos just screwing around, doing some shooting drills together, really got me excited about our defensive corps going into next season and beyond. After what I've seen the past three days, Cumiskey and Wilson really need to take their game to the next level or I can easily see some decisions being made to give a look at what the other two could do at the NHL level (granted they do well this weekend and in pre-season and/or in Erie.) We all know Sacco and Co. has no qualms about sitting players who aren't getting it done and giving a chance to those whom they think might. Shattenkirk and Holos have shown this week that they want to be there and have the skill to be there. Now it's just a question, really, of should they be there.
Interesting tidbits for today: finally got to meet Jori! It was so awesome to be able to put a real live face to the name. (Great to see you, girl, and I'm looking forward to the next time when we can actually sit down and talk!) Discovered that Bubs' love for Wolski might rival mine for Liles....not sure I wanted to know that. ;-) Realized that hockey is such a deep part of me that seeing an empty rink through glass while eating lunch is enough in and of itself to ground me and quiet my soul on the spot. And finally, getting the opportunity to do all of this with such an amazing friend and to share all of these experiences with you here at MHH has been beyond all expectations and I'm thrilled I had the chance to do it!
Okay, enough sap. Reg training camp on Saturday! See lots of you there, right??
*Correction on the pics. Stephen Silas is #63 and looking closer, that's a 2...making that #62, Troy Rutkowski. Easy, Bubblegum.
Stefan Elliott, Brandon Maxwell
Wacey Hamilton, Calvin Pickard
Troy Rutkowski (Bub's BFF)*, Calvin Pickard
Off to the Races
Travis Gawryletz (with puck), Kevin Shattenkirk (nearest), & ?
Michael Bournival, Calvin Pickard