I was back at Anaheim Ice today to watch practice and the scrimmage. I am going to need spinal fusion surgery (Peyton Manning had it a few times) after sitting on the bleachers. I'm taking one for the team and going back Sunday but this time Chris will be joining me.
Like yesterday, I'll be doing this by player/line. I did take into account some of your comments on who to get more info on. I also decided not to look at the players on PTO or ATO contracts. They won't directly impact the Ducks future.
One quick note. I realized midway through the scrimmage I hadn't seen Joseph Cramarossa on either day. He is listed on the roster and I believe he took part in Day One. I emailed Ducks PR to get a status update. Just realized Stefan Warg is listed on the roster, not marked as injured and is MIA.
I'd also like to take the opportunity to thank Dr. Tooma who did my LASIK surgery in January. I was practically blind at (-6.00) in both eyes and even with my contacts I couldn't see as well as I do today. It's remarkable how much better I could see the players.
Anyhoo, on to practice! Here's the group who practiced today:
|GOALTENDERS||RED LINE||ORANGE LINE|
|Igor Bobkov||Teemu Selanne||Max Friberg|
|Viktor Fasth||Nick Bonino||Stefan Noesen|
|Jakob Silfverberg||Antoine Laganiere|
|DEFENSEMEN||GRAY LINE||WHITE LINE|
|Cam Fowler||Devante Smith-Pelley||Charlie Sarault|
|Mark Fistric||Daniel Winnik||Austin Carroll*|
|Kyle Becker*||Patrick Maroon||Ross Johnston*|
|Mat Clark||* Denotes Amature Try-Out (ATO)|
-- Start off by saying that, once again, Francois Beauchemin is a badass. He's completed the entire pre-scrimmage practice both days I've been in attendance. Beauch isn't going full-tilt but he's pretty damn close. He was even hitting people and taking hits.
-- I was asked to take a closer look at Antoine Laganiere. I did and I really liked what I saw. For a guy that's 6'4", he's surprisingly fast and agile on his skates. If another player got in his way, he'd just stick his arms out and barely tap (at least it looked that way) the opposition out of the way. They usually fell down or went flying. He puck handled really well too, even making a couple through the legs moves in some drills.
-- Teemu Selanne is still the best skater on the ice. He was the fastest one during suicides at the end of practice with his glorious hair flowing in the win. He smoked the defense when chasing after pucks, even when Teemu had to skate a further distance to the zone than the defenseman did. One thing fun to watch with Teemu is his interaction with Bruce Boudreau (this is where LASIK helped). Selanne would miss the net by inches and Bruce would occasionally skate over, elbow Teemu in the ribs and grin as he said something to the effect of "You can't make that? That's easy!" After the practice, Selanne stayed out with Fowler and Bobkov. Selanne stationed himself in 'his office' and received passes from Cam for one-timers on Bobkov.
-- Nick Bonino and Selanne would actively make sure they were paired together on each passing/puck possession drill. When they clicked last season, it was Nick Bonino Scoring Machine-o Time. Bones got hurt and Selanne suffered. They're trying to get the chemistry back early.
-- Jakob Silfverberg is the other winger with the two mentioned above. The one thing I found incredibly ironic about the way he plays: he'd get the puck and try to do something fancy with it and BOOM the defender would take the puck or bat it away. Who does that remind you of? Oh. Yeah. That guy he was traded for. Sustained puck possession when pressured looks to be his weak spot. At the end as Selanne was effortlessly skating suicides, Silfverberg started to fade like Dustin Penner did yesterday. Even Beauchemin with the surgically repaired ACL was skating faster and without issue.
-- Goalie coach Dwayne Roloson focus exclusively on Viktor Fasth; barely even acknowledged Bobkov's presence. Roloson spent a good amount of time on Fasth's move of pushing off the far post and he falls down into the butterfly. It's hard to describe. It definitely looked like they were working to control Fasth's five-hole issues (that's what she...nevermind. Too easy.)
-- Stefan Noesen's speed is definitely one of his biggest weapons. The only thing is, he's got a slight case of Luis Mendoza Problems. He doesn't have full-blown Mendoza issues but he does at times completely over-skate the puck or lose control of it because he's going too fast.
-- Patrick Maroon wasn't just going through the motions in practice. On several occasions, he'd run drills and then go to Bruce to coaching. While the team was stretching, he spent about five minutes away from the group talking with Bruce.
-- In cutest-thing-ever news. When Scott Niedermayer skated near the far corner boards, the kids standing behind the glass started freaking out and cheering. He'd skate away and they'd stop. It went on for 10 minutes.
Now for the scrimmage!
|TEAM WHITE||TEAM BLACK|
|Corey Perry||Emerson Etem|
|Dustin Penner||Peter Holland|
|Ryan Getzlaf||Zach Stortini|
|Ross Johnston*||Hampus Lindholm|
|Tiegan Zahn**||Matt Beleskey|
|Jonas Hiller||Ryan Horvat*|
|Etienne Marcoux||Andrew Cogliano|
|Rickard Rakell||John Kurtz|
|Brad Staubitz||Chris Wagner|
|Brent Andrews*||Kyle Palmieri|
|Steven Whitney||Saku Koivu|
|Shea Theodore||John Gibson|
|Austin Carroll*||Luca Sbisa|
|Bryan Allen||Kenton Helgesen|
|Sami Vatanen||Frederik Andersen|
|John Mitchell||Alex Grant|
|Maxime Suave**||Garnet Exelby**|
|* Denotes Amature Try-Out (ATO)|
|** Denotes Pro Try-Out (PTO)|
I've been to a lot of training camps with the Ducks and this was - by far - the most intense scrimmage they've ever had. You can read the recap of the game itself here. I was focused on everything else going on.
Team Black played - and won - yesterday against the squad of Teemu and friends who had just come off the ice from practice. They were remarkably more physical and offensive minded on Friday and that didn't change on Saturday.
-- One non-scrimmage thing of note. When a player officially 'makes' the club at the pro level, their jersey number becomes a lower number; for example, last season Nick Bonino went from 63 to 13. This is a tradition from the Brian Burke era and Bob Murray has kept it going. I say this because Kyle Palmieri was number 51 last season. Now he is number 21. (Again I would like to sincerely apologize to Palmieri for making him a better player by the use of public shame calling my fantasy team Trade Kyle Palmieri.)
-- Of course everyone was interested in the reuniting of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Dustin Penner. They played the shortest shifts of the scrimmage, probably around 20 seconds, where everyone else was at least 45 seconds or more. It was fun to watch but they were playing at about half-speed. A lot of drop passes. Lazy puck-handling by Getzlaf to the point where Koivu did the equivalent of 'breaking ankles' in basketball to Getz; absolutely undressed him.
-- Koivu out played Getzlaf the entire scrimmage. I wouldn't read too far into this though. Koivu goes all out all the time. Towards the middle of the second half I almost barfed because I saw him tweak something and he was really slow to get up, grimacing the entire time. He got up and re-joined the play - full out - then went back to the bench to put his head down for a bit. He seemed fine the rest of the game.
-- Yesterday I remarked that each team has that one asshole in the group who pushes his teammates buttons during practice and in scrimmages. The Ducks happen to have three this time in Brad Staubitz, Nolan Yonkman and Zach Stortini. Now I know coaches like to see competitive fire and a few face-to-face confrontations is good for elevating intensity but there is a line. This line borders on competitive fire and reckless abandon. Surprisingly Stortini didn't cross it but Yonkman and Staubitz did.
-- Matt Beleskey is the team's pseudo-enforcer. He'll throw down when necessary. Yonkman had been giving Beleskey the business during the scrimmage, no big deal. Then Yonkman began to take runs at Beleskey, shoving him head first into the boards on at least four different occasions. The two had to be separated twice. I had to laugh at who broke up the first fight. Palmieri all 5'8" of him reached up and grabbed Yonkman by the collar. The 6'6" Yonkman shoved his arm off and then turned to face Palms to give him the death stare. It looked like a Pageant of the Masters painting of David and Goliath. Yonkman made the smart move and skated away.
The second tussle, Beleskey had thrown down the stick and gloves but Yonkman wouldn't bite. Beleskey skated back to the benches yelling at Yonkman the entire way and continued to do so for 30 seconds after he sat down. At the end of the scrimmage, Bels and Yonkman chopped at the puck and it ricocheted into the visor-less face of Yonkman.
-- Hampus Lindholm had a better-ish game today. Once he was beaten to the puck by...Dustin Penner. Then he took a Sami Vatanen shot to the visor and something broke off his helmet. Not too long afterward, Staubitz took a two-handed cheap shot chop to the first round pick's knees. Hampus fell to the ice and Staubitz got a penalty. I didn't see exactly what happened prior to the chop but I did see the chop itself. It was reckless and unnecessary. Hampus Lindholm>Brad Staubitz.
-- Bruce is focused on the line of Palmieri, Beleskey and Peter Holland. Palmieri and Beleskey are in good with the big club but Holland has the weight of his career on his shoulders this season. Reuniting him with Palmieri sparked something in not only Holland but Beleskey. They were the best line on the ice. One of them was always in front of the net screening the goaltender (usually Holland), another is at/near the boards to dig at pucks (usually Beleskey) and the other is floating around the middle of the zone waiting for a pass (usually Palmieri). If one got out of position, the others would rotate to compensate. I'm excited to see if they can keep it up during the pre-season games. Holland beat Getzlaf on face-offs and even pulled a Saku Koivu by 'breaking Getz's ankles' for a second time in the scrimmage.
-- Finally, I'm ready to see Chris Wagner get a real shot at making the big club. Every time I've watched him I've been impressed. He's a great skater. He can play center. He's got a killer wrist shot. He scored two of the four goals today. Bruce called him a 'good worker bee'. (Does that make Bruce the queen?)