No idle chit chat! Let's get to the news from Day 1
Group 1 Highlights
- High intensity with lots and lots of skating, using full length of the rink for about 75% of the time. Started with one on one drills, up to 3 on 3 cycle drill, then to power play cycles, finishing by 25 minutes of one on ones with full rink bag skates at 45 second intervals, simulating game action. No screwing around!
-No Tyler Myers, as he was left to skate by himself in a separate rink. Not sure what the issue was, but at least he's skating. As such, there were no noticeable defensive pairings, as this was a bit jumbled.
-Brian Little was indeed moved to the wing, and Ladd and Lowry as his line mates. Not sure what's going on here, but Little did leave the ice about two-thirds thru the practice session. No word as to why.
- Matt Fraser seemed to be testing out a quad or hip flexor issue.
-Joel Armia was lined with Brendan Lemieux and Andrew Copp and seems to be the "on the bubble".
-Thomas Raffl's skating ability and foot speed is nothing to worry about. Situated on a line with Nic Petan and Chris Thorburn thru out the practice session, and did not look out of place. Thorburn and Raffl are a large duo.
- Goalie trio of Ondrej Pavelec with Eric Comrie and David Leggio, who was to be with the second group. More on the goalie situation in a bit...
Group 2 Highlights
-Same drill sequencing as group 1, and again lots and lots of skating. This session actually seemed a bit disjointed than the morning session. A lot more spirited, and at times, aggressive.
-Mark Schefele was centering Blake Wheeler and Drew Stafford, while Alex Burmistrov was centering Mathieu Perreault and either Nikolaj Ehlers or Axel Blomqvist. That's right folks, Blomqvist! His skating has come along, long way,and did not look out of place at all.
- Perreault and Burmistrov is a duo made in hockey heaven!
- Matt Halishuk (in blue) joined the White group and paired with Blake Wheeler for one on one/ bag skate time.
- Speaking of Halishuk, he was lined with Patrice Cormier and Antony Peluso thru out drills.
- Scary moment, as Nikolaj Ehlers rang a heavy wrister off of Micheal Hutchison's mask, dropping him flat out. After about 20 seconds, Hutchinson got back up and continued.
- Speaking of goalies, only Hutchinson and Connor Hellebuyck on the ice for this group. Here's the back up goalie competition, front and centre, head to head.
-Dustin Byfuglien is slim, trim, and ready to go. Paired with Ben Chariot thru most of the drills.
- Paul Postma and Adam Pardy were paired, while Josh Morrissey was paired with Nelson Nogier
- No Jussi Olkinura or John Albert.
Essentially, this was a bag skate in a fishbowl, as roughly 250 people showed up to watch for each session, shuffled between 2 rinks. I'll be attending the open practice on Monday, so it will be interesting to see the similarities and differences between the two days.