Friday, September 19, 2008

Pack Your Swimsuit And Your Tent, It's Time To Go Camping!

Today is the first step every team must take to win a Stanley Cup. In some respects today is the most important day of the entire season. It will decide what kind of team the Capitals will be this season. This is training camp.

If you have never gone to a NHL camp before, it's different for every team but the same. Coaches will run players through a complex set of drills mostly to weed out the out of shape and to analyzed the most improved. Usually first day of camp is just about confusing for the fans who want to see their favorite players in their practice garb running down orange cones on the ice than it is for the rookies who are fresh from rookie camp.

Just know that through that craziness, that veteran players will always look like they know what they are doing (even though they might not), and rookies will always look like deer in the headlights. Many of the players that attended rookie camp will stay and train with the team until they get shipped to Hershey for the start of their camp, or if they make it all the way through (unlikely for most). Karl Alzner and Oskar Osala are the two to watch through out camp and are probably the favorites to make the team. Don't count out Francois Bouchard and Mathieu Perreault who both had strong rookie camps.

If you are wondering what to watch for, rather than snapping a picture of your favorite player, is how players respond to coaches commands. Usually it's the first sign if a player is doing well is if he is focused and honed in on what the coaches want. It's not always if you can do the drill perfectly, although Bruce Boudreau does harp on the guys level of perfection at the NHL level, but if the player can understand what the drill is teaching them and how well they take direction. Believe it or not, but some of the veterans will be scratching their heads with some of the drills the coaches will come up with.

Loosely based on the my earlier poll on this site, most Caps fans are interested in seeing Jose Theodore in this year's camp. With Olaf Kolzig gone and Cristobal Huet of to greener pastures, Theodore has some big pads to fill and a lot of fans have their doubts. As they should. In a way, the Caps are like the Green Bay Packers, their are with out their Kolzig (Brett Farve) that they have enjoyed for years for now some one new (but not entirely new because Jose's been around the block a time or two).

It will also be interesting to see who Alex Ovechkin lines up with though camp. Nick Backstrom? Micheal Nylander? And there will be a battle for the third and fourth line forwards, I guarentee.

So enjoy the festivities, and get a chance to see your heroes up close. Hockey is back in Washington. Finally!

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