While I am still under the weather, I took in the morning skate at Kettler. Seeing the Rookie practice in a cold rink isn't the best for a cold, but some how I soldiered on.
The practice centered around a lot of passing and break out work. Obviously, the coaches are trying to emphasize puck possession for their last practice before the Flyers rookie game. The drills consisted mostly of quick on the fly passes, breakouts and drop passes. Overall the practice was pretty light considering. The players may have been saving most of their energy for the scrimmage that followed.
The scrimmage was more of a pick up game with referees. Most of the guys looked tired after getting in a practice first. The action in the scrimmage was more about finding that chemistry with line mates and working on the system the coaches wanted them to play in. The scrimmage consisted of two periods, fifteen minutes each. It ended in a one-one tie and went to a shoot out. I didn't get a chance to see the winning goal, but white team won. Then Bruce Boudreau gave a quick pep speech on the bench before concluding the work out.
Just some things that jumped out at me. Karl Alzner is never afraid to slow down the action, more than once he would take that extra second behind the net or on the break to get the pass right. Oskar Osala is using his size much more than at development camp last July, I thought. It might have be just the fact that he was giving a 100% in practice but in the scrimmage Osala seemed a bit behind or lazy.
John Carlson has a wicked shot but it has to be a quicker release. His goal for the blue team was off a fast release at the top of the slot, but his all of his other shots from the point were predictable and easily rebounded to the side by goaltenders. Speaking of the goaltenders, they looked pretty sharp, especailly Braden Holtby. I thought he looked much more comfortable in the crease then he had in July. While Simeon Varlamov looks much more refined, I thought both Micheal Nuevirth and Hotlby held their own.
It was a disappointment not to get a look at Anton Gustafsson. He missed the development camp in July and may have reaggrevated his injury at rookie camp. I don't think it's likely to see him on the ice again for the rest of camp, although the Caps insist he will stay through rest of training camp and will be on the ice again.
Tomorrow the veterans have an optional skate in the morning, then it is the Caps/Flyers rookie game. It will be interesting to see what the lines will end up being and how the kids fair. Then Friday is the big day. First day of training camp. Although many players have been in town and working out for a couple of weeks, it will be the first time the coaches will be able to get their mits on them.
See you at the rookie game!