Notes - 9/14 --
observations from Sunday morning's first session
featuring team A.
With the focus
positioning and transition it was an ice time where
a player would relish not standing out, as opposed
to making a name for himself. To be just one of the
guys is to be in the right place at the right time
and doing the right thing.
With that there
were some players that managed to stand out for both
good and bad reasons.
The Big Line - My
first crack at the reunited MCI line with Jarome
Iginla, Craig Conroy and Dean McAmmond. Their red
coloured jerseys weren't the only thing that caught
one's attention. They all speed, they all had a nose
for the net and they did appear to have chemistry as
a line. Provided a great benchmark for the rest of
the forwards, of which very few were big roster
players (Reinprecht, Saprykin, Kobasew, Yelle, etc
all in session B).
Jesse Wallin - a
very competent defenceman that sometimes got himself
in trouble by over committing on some drills and
getting himself out of position. For the most part
he did a fine job of matching skills against the
other 7th defenceman candidate of the session, Steve
Dion Phaneuf -
there are two immediate truths when one takes a look
at Dion Phaneuf. 1) He's going to be a player 2)
He's going back to Red Deer this fall. Rough around
the edges but already looking pretty comparable to
lower roster Pro defencemen, I was struck by how big
he is. Listed at 6'2" on the guide, he looked
bigger than his defence partner Rhett Warrener (also
listed at 6'2").
Krzyzstof Oliwa -
Pretty much as advertised. Very big, not very
skilled, and not very fast. He does have a whale of
a shot though I wonder if he as the other skills to
get himself in position to use it.
Robert Dome -
Sadly he just didn't stand out. He didn't look bad,
but he didn't step up either. Part of the problem
early was the fact that he had on Matt Davidson's
jersey, leading me to believe that Davidsion was in
trouble to make the team.
Blair Betts - one
of the soundest young players on the ice. He didn't
stand out with the puck as much as he dazzled
without it by understanding his position and picking
up his check on defensive drills. He appeared to
have some good chemistry with the real Matt
Matt Davidson -
good size, great speed, and a clear tenacity on the
forecheck. Worked with Betts on a line and the two
Ryan Donally - A
very big man, rivaled Oliwa in size. He'll have to
do more than grow however to take that next step.
Below average wheels and hands.
The first thing
that stood out to me were the number of track suites
on the ice - a count of six this season, almost
double what you traditionally see. Sutter, Playfair,
Rich Preston, Rob Cookson, Jamie Hislop, and David
Marcoux spent a
lot of the 90 minute session working with and
talking to Roman Turek, often pulling the big goalie
aside from the group to work on specific skills.
Turek looked sharp.
Some very unique
drills under the tutelage of Darryl Sutter, and Jim
Playfair (the mastermind behind many of them if I
At one point
Playfair had all the blueliners dressed in black
taking part in a stickhandling drill around one of
the nets. Each player would take the puck beside one
post work their way around to the other post, pass
the puck out to the slot, receive it back and then
stick handle back around to the other side and then
do it again. It really separated the men from the
defencemen like Robin Regehr and Rhett Warrener were
seamless in their ability to move their feet and
hands around the net, while younger players like
Rail Rozakov and Phaneuf were constantly looking
down. One standout in this drill was Steve Montador.
interesting defenseman drill was set to simulate a
point man moving the puck around a defender tight to
the blueline then firing on net. Playfair tossed two
gloves on the ice, each only 8 inches from the
blueline and two to three feet apart. Each
defenceman had to take the puck along the line, beat
the glove and fire, then go back the other way and
Once again the
upper end pros stood out, but so to did Jesse Wallin