As we reported yesterday, Bobby Ryan pulled his groin during practice. Bobby was optimistic that he'd be able to take the ice today after receiving some ice and Advil post-practice. (I could not confirm reports that my mom was offering medical advice as part of the Ducks training staff.) Alas, Ryan's optimism was not shared by the trainers and he was kept off the ice for both the team scrimmage and his group's practice session. According to the Ducks, Ryan will be skating tomorrow. I wouldn't look any further into this than Bobby is skating during the morning skate to see how things feel. I'd be willing to bet my negative net worth that he will not play in the game versus the Coyotes on Tuesday. Too valuable an asset to take a chance on.
Moving on from today's Groin Watch 2011 update. Both practice sessions were pretty much the same as the previous two days only with less exciting drills (read: no breakaway races). The focus of today was the first scrimmage of training camp, pitting the speedy, talented Group B (6 goals) versus the um...well...special people of Group A (1 goal). (Still need a reminder of the groups? Go back to Saturday's post.)
First, somehow on the most important part of my camp coverage, I managed to forget my good camera...again. I did get a couple crudely shot videos on my iPhone, and you can see them on my YouTube page. I also included a video of Lubomir Visnovsky taking slapshots after practice. His shoulders look good.
On to the highlights of the scrimmage! Duck Buddy from Battle of California, Earl Sleek, joined me for the scrimmage. He didn't have a camera either, and cartooning the highlights would have taken too long. We turn to the Ducks YouTube account for help. I would recommend turning off your speakers when you watch this video. Otherwise, I take no responsibility for what happens when you leave the sound on. I almost launched my laptop across the room when I did. You have been warned.
-- Emerson Etem took quite a beating during the scrimmage. There were several instances where Ryan Getzlaf would run down Etem, slam him into the boards or down to the ice, and then proceed to hold Emerson there until he wiggled himself free. Later in the scrimmage, Etem hit Sheldon Brookbank on open ice. We all know that Brookbank has anger managment issues and poor decision making skills, and he proceeded to two-handed axe chop down on the first round pick. Emerson would have received a penalty shot had he not taken the puck down and scored directly after the penalty.
-- Today, Peter Holland finally showed up. I was beginning to think the kid was going to be a bust, but today he turned it around. He was puck-handling through the legs of the defense, and he has a hell of a shot from the point, scoring Group A's only goal. I could see him as a viable 3rd line option if he keeps it up.
-- Not sure what Devante Smith-Pelly did to get in the coach's dog house (or maybe he was injured?), but I don't remember seeing him more than twice in the second half of the scrimmage. That's not good for what's supposed to be the second coming of (and less puffy) Dustin Penner. We'll see if he breaks the lineup for tomorrow night's game.
-- Andrew Gordon and Mark Bell seemed like they were destined for Syracuse during practice. Why? Because I would forget they were on the ice. They was nothing that made them memorable. Put those two in a game and it was different. Bell was physical. Gordon was a sniper and a great passer. I think that Gordon has a better chance than Bell to make the big team, but they're going to have to battle players like Brandon McMillan and Matt Beleskey who have similar games for permanent spots.
-- Nate Guenin wasn't screwing around. He didn't care what your name was or how much your cap hit is, he would drill you into the wall. Luckily for Guenin, he was smart enough to avoid patron saint Teemu Selanne because we all know that hitting Selanne in a scrimmage will cause the offending player to drop dead on the spot. FACT.
-- Shifts were limited for Selanne, Saku Koivu, Corey Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf. After what happened to Bobby yesterday, I'm not surprised that Carlyle doesn't want to press his luck. But don't you worry, once Getzy was on the ice, he was lagging behind the plays. Like usual, it resulted in Ryan hooking and slashing the onrushing player. Sigh.
-- We all know that Dan Sexton's speed is his ultimate weapon. The problem is he often finds himself on breakaways (good) only to have a horrific shot on goal (bad). That still hasn't changed. He had a breakaway during the scrimmage and at a billion miles an hour managed to go five-hold on the already butterflied goaltender.
-- I like the kid, he's funny on Twitter, but Joseph Cramarossa will be sent back to Juniors. He was waaay too deer in headlights during the scrimmage. The speed, the pace, the skill, everything overwhelmed him. He could be a good pest-in-training, but he's not ready for prime time (or the Syracuse evening news, for that matter).
-- I am going to get some crap for this, but I think Corey Perry is just a step or two slow. I'm sure after winning the MVP, he had an amazing summer in Canada (where I believe his creepy flesh-colored beard is fashionable), and rightfully so. In my opinion, he looks winded after drills that would normally be easy for him. I'm not too worried, though. He's not Dustin Penner, and his conditioning has never been an issue. He'll be back to his old goalie-crashing self (which he did once during the scrimmage) by the regular season opener.
-- Remember that time, in the playoffs, where GM Bob Murray said that he should build a team of divers to compete with Nashville? Well, he's started. Ladies and gentleman, meet Andrew Cogliano. After getting absolutely destroyed by a couple of opposing players, he began to dive. We'll take it...until the league catches on.
-- Matt Beleskey, Toni Lydman and Matt Kennedy were allowed to practice, but still not allowed to participate in any contact drills or scrimmages. I don't recall seeing Maxime Macenauer at practice today after injuring his groin on Saturday. Mathieu Carle took a nasty spill yesterday and was not on the ice at all today. I'm thinking concussion, but Carlyle is sticking with "woozy".
-- Finally, the required Jonas Hiller update. He was all smiles the entire scrimmage. He was laughing and joking with the other goalies. He'd come off the ice smiling. Fans would try to get his picture when he was near by and he'd give a quick wink and a grin. Last season, you didn't see that from him. He was melancholy and lost. Seeing him happy and having fun is just as important as how he reacts on the ice.