The day included some big hits and some great action. For a first scrimmage, the boys didn't disappoint. One thing was for sure, just about every player gave it their all. Not one player came off the ice dry, everyone broke a sweat.
Stefan Della Rovere had the best performance of the day before he hurt his shoulder. He was physical on the puck and created opportunities deep in the white teams zone. All was missing was a goal for the tough forward, but there were no shortage of hitting. At one point Della Rovere hit Joe Finley behind the net. Finley took the worst of the hit, he fell like a heap against the boards to the ice surprised to be hit that hard by a little guy. Unfortunately, DR missed a check early in the second half and went into the boards hard. He will have his shoulder examined, he won't know until tomorrow whether he can continue.
Dmitri Orlov also played well, the best defenseman on the ice by far, in my opinion. He had two massive hits, one on an invitee Sorkin. He cut into him with a good hip check and it sent Sorkin flying head over heels. The other hit was a good shoulder check on Zack Miskovic. Orlov was solid on defense, a good skater he was never really beat.
Also on the blue team side John Carlson played well, getting a goal off of a rebound from a Orlov slapper on Dan Dunn. Josh Godfrey did well, but he would at times carry the puck into the offensive zone and tend to stay there a bit longer than he should. Often a forward was left behind to play defense and that led to white team chances.
On the white team, Mathieu Perreault was a tremendous puck mover that worked hard. He actually broke his skate when he side stepped a hit from Della Rovere. He missed a few shifts as they fixed his skate. Michael Dubuc also had a good game. He scored the last three goals for the white team, a hattrick. It included an empty netter goal for his second goal, and then he scored after that one with mere seconds left on the clock.
Braden Holtby was very good in net for the white team. He was the only goaltender to post a shutout, and he had to kill off a penalty in the first minute when Finley took a tripping call just :16 seconds in. He was solid, calm and collected in net.
Those that seemed to disappoint to me were Anton Gustafsson and Joe Finley. Gustafsson just seemed lost in the shuffle. He did nothing really to stand out offensively. He had a few back checks that were impressive, a couple of good defensive plays. But he did not produce much on the offensive end. Lil' Gus might be feeling the pressure of the Capitals and his father's legacy.
Finley did what he could, but he wasn't the fastest or the hardest hitting player on the ice. He took two penalties, one a trip and the other was a high stick to a player in front of the net away from the puck. Finley is a big guy, no doubt, but he was hit off his feet by some smaller players. Not a good game for him.
Tomorrow will be the second scrimmage, at the same time 3:30 pm, with the third one on Saturday.
- The Caps get some key players back into the fold. Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn forwards Kyle Wilson, Eric Fehr and Chris Bourque signed their qualifing offers (all one year deals). Steve Pinizotto signed a two way, two year contract with the Capitals as well. There is some confusion over if Jeff Schultz signed his contract but I am sure that will be sorted by tomorrow.
- The Capitals schedule has been released. The open at Boston on October first. Then they return home to play Toronto for their home opener on the 3rd of October. Then the schedule just gets harder as their next four opponents will be Philly, NY Rangers, Detroit and New Jersey. Tough start.
- GM George McPhee said it is 50/50 whether or not the Capitals will play at Olympic Stadium against the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs reported having a game at the gigantic stadium on November 28th, and the Caps are scheduled to play Montreal on that date. But nothing has been finalized. "You always look at what benefits the team," Bruce Boudreau said when asked about playing at the stadium, "For the coaching staff you have to look at all the positives and all the negatives in doing it. Right now I don't know enough of either."