I stayed for the whole time today, and it was a lot of fun. Everyone seemed more grounded; they worked pretty damn hard out there on the ice. With the roster still uncertain and a lot of guys competing for a spot, I don't think any of the 'lower' guys are going to let up.
Also, first row means no one in front of us! Huzzah!
The day was basically set up the same way as yesterday's practices. I still didn't bother to go across to the east rink to see what was going on over there. De west side is de bes' siiide! It was crowded again, but there wasn't much in the way of "Hey you, get the hell out of the way before I throw you over the rail!", so that was good. Here is a photo of the crowd that couldn't find room upstairs, and instead went to hang out on the floor:
Pretty good turnout for the day. No one really stood along the rails, either. Also, check out this really terrible image of the Avs head brass hanging out on their balcony:
I would go so far as to say that this was the least crowded that it was all day today, and it was even more crowded yesterday. I get the feeling that everyone that can come out, did. It was so crowded over there that the Amateur Scouting Corps had to maintain some kind of a catwalk on our side:
So thats how the day started. I was sitting, again, with a bunch of MHH peeps yelling a lot and laughing. Sorry, everyone there that was uberserious. We came to have a good time and celebrate hockey. Sometimes that has a lot to do with yelling about how Aittokallio is infallible, or exclaiming over other fan's hairstyles, or whatever else.
Game 1 started out really strong: Black v Blue. The teams were the same as yesterday, and I don't feel like breaking them all down again. I will say that Black scored within 45 seconds of puck-drop. Barrie from Cann's glove-side, off of a short pass from McLeod on stick-side. But the whole thing started off of an absolutely beautiful pass from Johnson, who was playing the right-hand point (uh, goalies left?). More of that, please!!
Jonsey scored just a few minutes later, a very nice goal. I mentioned him a couple other times in my notes. He has really impressed me this preseason; No jinxing, tho. Awesome.
O'Reilly looked really good on the Blue team. Meurs looks great, considering he's at his first rookie camp and was drafted in the fifth round. He has really impressed me. He won't be vying for a roster spot or anything, but a couple years down the line... McClement is throwing out some good moves, and is playing tough; he is definitely defensively oriented, but he can put the puck on net creatively when there is no one else. McLeod is still working really hard out there on the Black team. Oh, and I have a note on O'Brien. He's... not amazing. I wouldn't see him as more than a bottom pairing Dman, unless he has some sort of magical chemistry that allows him to work with one of the other guys and climb the ladder. Otherwise, its a 6/7 spot for sure, but a good one.
The entire game was really physical; some players took that to heart more than others. I am still sure that Sacco and Co told them that they had to be hard to play against this year, and they are practicing it now. Right as I wrote this, Erik Johnson laid Landeskog OUT right in front of us. I wish I had it on video. In no way was it malicious: Johnson just lowered his shoulder to an appropriate height and stopped some fancy move that Landy was trying to throw out there. He then took away the puck and calmly passed it across the ice to Hejda. Landeskog scrambled up, adjusted his hat, and got right back to work, but I am sure he will remember to keep his head up next time.
A little later on, I had this whole spiel laid out about Johnson, but I am going to move it up to right now, because it fits. When EJ hit Landy, he didnt even move on his feet. He had full composure, total calm, and just did what he had to do. There was a moment later on when he slid the blueline backwards, stickhandling at a high level, just as cleanly as if he was coasting the edge of a knife. AJ and I both went "WOW!", and Cheryl laughed at us. He used his bulk to keep the crease clear, knocked anyone down that he couldn't shift, and all around looked fantastic. I remember some article or another talking about how much he worked on his lower-body strength: it shows. Oh man, I am so pumped that he is on the team.
I got to witness a Jan Hejda wrist shot from the point. It was really good. I was totally startled when he broke that out; I hadn't expected it in any way. Cann looked surprised when it suddenly hit his pads, too. Covered up pretty quickly, tho.
Hunwick has a decent slapshot; I had forgotten. But he has barely used it. Actually, speaking of the guy, he hasn't really impressed me at all. He does look better than Cumiskey, who looks like he is still remembering how to play. Speaking of those two guys, they ended up in a pile against the boards the startled us about 5 minutes into the game:
They both got up OK, but none of us were really expecting them to go down. Oh, and notice at the very end of the video, there's a little podium set against the glass? With a binder and some coffee on it next to the dude in the red? Yeah, take note of that.
This next video has some fun things in it. Keep an eye out for a rush involving O'Reilly and Landeskog that was broken up by Guance at about 0:52... can this be more of what we will see this season? But really, at 1:04, there is a hit by Justin Mercier on Kyle Cumiskey that launches that cup of coffee off of the podium and onto peoples shoes. We greeted the spectacle with gales of laughter. Both of the players were ok, but it was a HARD hit. Mercier seems to be involved in a whole lot of those, both dished out and on the receiving end. I feel like he wants to make an impression, whether it be good or bad, and thats more imporant than being all buddy-buddy with some of the guys.
About this time, I decided that I wanted to up-res my video to something a bit easier for you folks at home. I recorded at 720 x 1280, and we will see how it looks on them thar' youtubies. Hopefully you guys can get a slightly clearer view of what all is going on.
This video has some fun stuff in it too! Check out Landsekog (#92 blue), and his speed and puck poise throughout his long shift. It has more Guance, a drive by Barrie that shows some of his offensive acumen (0:15, #41 blue), some looks at Shane O'Brien's skating ability (#5 blue), and culminates in a quintessential Paul Stastny goal:
Holy crapmonkey that came out big. Oh well, now you all can feel like you are actually there! Maybe not, hang on -
Ok, lets go with this size from now on. The full res is available on the youtubes, if anyone cares. For grins, here is the last shift of the game, which the Black Team won handily.
Now, on to Game 2! Man, I am only starting on game 2? I am going to go get a beer if I have two more games to get thru.
Ok, a few observations. Bordeleau is BIG, guys. I remember when I first saw Koci out there, and I was surprised. Well, Bordy seems even less normal. He just carries himself like a big guy, making him seem even bigger than our new giant defense. Mueller is looking really good. He still doesn't have his magic touch back, but you can see the raw talent is there, and he seems really willing to push his comfort zone and see what he can do.
Early in the game, Pickard made a really acrobatic save on Mules, diving back across the paint after saving a really nice Hejduk shot (redundant). Soon after this, something bad happened in the corner, and Mueller got slammed down to the ice. He got up limping badly, and half skated, half 'poled' himself along with his stick like a Venetian gondolier. As I watched him on the bench, Radar scored, but I barely noticed it. AJ said it was nice, tho. My fears seemed to be unfounded, tho, because Mueller came out on his next scheduled shift, and Pickard had to work hard to keep the Grey team from scoring on him.
This next video happened pretty quickly after what I just described; the whole flow of this vid was like the entire day. No whistles, long shifts, fast back-and-forth action. I'll throw the whole thing up, about 2:30 of HD recording. This is Varly in the net nearest us. Some things to watch for: The pole that saved Varly from being scored on at 0:08. That was a Landeskog shot, BTW. You can also see Galiardi striding up the left side of the ice (0:25ish); he goes at this speed, or faster, all damn day. Lifiton and Stoa slide into Varly at 1:31, and you can hear Beachie talking about his feelings about that happening altho I didn't get it on camera. "Look at Varley! He's like, 'Get out of my way! This is my crease!'"
At about 1:50 you can see the defensive pairing of Kyle Quincey and Duncan Siemens (#25 grey); I could imagine that would be pretty good, but you don't see much during this vid. Also, Bordeleau comes dashing (um, lumbering?) up the left at 2:04 (#58 grey). I was also reminded that Wilson looked really good today; he seems to be maturing. That was O'Byrne with the shot at the end, if you didn't quite catch the number.
Luke Walker scored on a penalty shot, which is what they do instead of power plays. It was pretty, for sure. Dario got a video of it, hang on... yup, HERE it is. Soon after that, Quincey ripped a shot past Pickard. I don't even remember the score, honestly. Siemens roughed up Landeskog against the boards right in front of us; if the kid wants to play like Scott Stevens, he is well on his way. I'll go ahead and say this here: Siemens is going to be great for us, Avs Fans. When he fills out, and if he can keep himself going with his skating and positioning, he is going to be a staple on the blueline, and we are going to love him.
Here is a video of Garret Meurs taking a shot on Varlomov on a breakaway; I am glad I was able to hit the record button in time to get this one:
Kid is going to be pretty decent at hockey someday.
Here is another video. I am just chock full of them today, and there are still like 6 more that I don't even remember what they are, but they will likely end up on here. I'm going to be a novelist, someday. Anyway, this one has some fun Radar vs. Galiardicus action at 0:10, some board puck battles at 0:50ish, and some Duchene speedster action at 1:28. Holos makes an appearance, as does Brandon Yip:
Here's another one. This was the last shift of the Blue v Grey. And yes, he did say that it was easy mode.
Time to move on to Game 3, finally!
The third scrimmage, Grey on Black, was a really defensive affair. Black had Stat's line, as well as Hejda and Johnson; Grey had Duchene's, and Wilson & Co. Compounding that was that this was the final game of the day, and all the guys were tired and didnt have the energy to be utterly impressive. Still, it was a great game, and I took a bunch of video of it instead of taking many notes.
Here is a fairly long video; unfortunately, its been subjected to my very terrible cinematic skill; I guess my arms were getting tired and this one shook a lot. However, it gives the overall feel of the game. Some guys that might catch your eye as you watch this are Lindstrom (#28 black), Malone (#42 black), Holos (#36 grey, I had forgotten his number), Stefan Elliott (#46 black), and Guance (#24 Black, again, in case you forgot). At 2:05 there is a little battle along the boards between Bordeleau and Johnson; at least you can see the size comparison.
Another vid. I'm not going to point out anything in this one, besides to tell you guys that thats Sami Aittokillio in the green and gold pads, and Trevor Cann at the other end. I think this video had the zoom on a little bit, and it feels really jerky -
Here is a nice goal scored by Daniel Winnik, with assists from Cody McLeod and Brad Malone. Looks like Hunwick made the pass that enabled the breakout, too. That's David Liffiton and Troy Rutkowski that were trying to defend, there. And Duchene and Duke that didn't hustle back from the neutral zone very quickly... but hey, this was the end of the day, and whatever.
I gotta upload this one. Not because I care about the play or anything, but at 0:13 some incredibly strange, bearded person starts making troll noises, and that cracks me the Funk up.
Damn, am I still posting? Well, here are the last two. One intro for both, I guess. They are both just more videos, just like the others, but if you're really an Avs junkie you may want to watch them. I am not even going to watch them, really, cause hey, you're all grownups and can figure out if theres anything good in there on your own.
Ok, I think thats it. I probably wont bother with trying to record anything tomorrow; ill just be hanging out and enjoying camp. Ill likely write down some thoughts, but nothing like the last couple posts.
Have a good week, guys and ladies!