Here are some notes on the Ducks forwards opening training camp at Honda Center yesterday morning. The first session, roughly an hour, of the practice was focused on forechecking and offensive zone drills, and the second session was special teams focused.
Kyle Palmieri -Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Bobby Ryan - Nick Bonino - Teemu Selanne
Andrew Cogliano - Saku Koivu - Daniel Winnik
Matt Beleskey - Peter Holland - Emerson Etem/Devante Smith-Pelly
Brad Staubitz - Ricard Rakell - Patrick Maroon/Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (that's one guy)
- I was shocked to find out via twitter, before the players even hit the ice, that Maroon had already been waived. If anyone has heard an explanation for that, please leave it in the comments. Obviously because of the shortened schedule there aren't nearly as many players invited as would have been in September but maybe it could have been a little bit shorter still.
- Maroon's day did not seem to go particularly well. In his first two drills he (expectedly) got schooled by Perry and Selanne. Then he proceeded to snow shower Hiller two or three times before sitting out the majority of the later drills.
- The lineup seems relatively set. The "fifth line" is essentially made up of guys who are there for the experience/trying out to be the "13th forward."
- Through all of the drills, Beleskey and Holland stayed together with Etem and Smith-Pelly rotating in. This gave me the impression that Holland has a spot to lose and either Etem or Smith-Pelly will make it while the other will be on his way back to Virginia. If this is the case, I'd say Smith-Pelly has the leg up with his size, experience and more versatile style of play.
- Etem vs. Palmieri seems like more of a direct comparison to me, and I don't see much separating them other than Palmieri's age.
- Trying not to read too far into it, but when the drills switched to 2-on-0 forward rushes, Teemu paired up with Getzlaf, and Perry with Palmieri. The drama has already brainwashed me.
- Winnik seems to be the least offensively talented forward above that "fifth line." His hands seemed significantly slower and sloppier than the rest of the group, but that could just be getting back into the swing of an NHL practice.
- The Cogliano-Koivu-Winnik line looks to be as close as we'll get to a checking line, which I am fine with. This is a Boudreau team and, as he mentioned in the Q&A session, he wants to roll four lines that can play against any opposition. The way that the lines were set up today, the first two lines are well defined and the bottom two could be interchanged depending on how the kids perform, which is promising for a four line team. This is also why I'm in favor of splitting Bobby Ryan off of the top line, to get away from the previous regime's philosophy and move toward a comfort zone for what the new coaching staff wants to do.
- Teemu on a line with Bobby Ryan is becoming very interesting to me. If Bobby and Bonino can spark some kind of chemistry this could be just the type of transition that the Ducks need. Last season I wrote a post questioning whether Bobby has what it takes to anchor is own line. Regardless of the fact that he is Teemu Selanne, Almighty King of Anaheim, a successful NHL team in this day and age cannot rely so heavily on a 42-year-old. While it may sound sacrilegious, making Teemu more of a complimentary player to Bobby and Bonino and giving Bobby the opportunity to forge a place of his own in the lineup while maturing into a leader of his own right, might be the best thing for the transition into the inevitable post-Teemu world..... Or maybe it will collapse and Bobby will be right back with Getzlaf and Perry in ten games.
- As much as I ripped him for playing in the Italian second division during the lockout, Bonino looked sharp with Bobby and Teemu. On a line with two such snipers he'll have to get back to the playmaking ability he showed at BU.
- Brad Staubitz seemed to be unnecessarily physical, likely to prove that he has a role on this team. As far as I can tell, he was only brought in as a low rent version of George Parros who is easier to scratch or send down for a better hockey player. Similar situation with Leblond, although he seems to be on a tryout.
Power Play Units:
Selanne-Getzlaf-Perry with Souray-Fowler
Ryan-Bonino-Holland-Palmieri with Sbisa
- A little more practical with the notes on the Power Play: If this turns out to be the long term direction that the team goes with, Bobby probably won't see much time on the first PP unit unless Teemu starts showing his age. Most of the time he was set up on the left faceoff dot, AKA Teemu's Office.
- At one point Getzy made one of his patented, no-look backhand passes directly to a penalty killer and there was a palpable groan from the crowd around us.
- Two defense notes (apologies if this is redundant with Jen's post):
- Souray mishandled at least three passes at the blueline, all I could think was "GODDAMNIT WHITNEY!" Bad sign.
- I need to see more movement from Fowler on the PP, he doesn't have the shot to hunker down at the point and blast away. That's what Souray's there for. He needs to create some chaos for the killers by using his skating ability. Paging Coach Niedermayer.
Penalty Killing Forwards:
Rakell was not in a color coded jersey for the special teams session, but rotated into the PK group
- Overall I thought DSP did his best work in the corners, and I'd like to see him work the front of the net more. In his defense, he got half as many reps as most of the other wingers, he wasn't on the top line with other guys who can get the puck out of the corners and he didn't get a chance on the power play, as he was in the penalty kill/other group.
- I don't think I'll ever get over Etem's ‘anything goes' skating stride, or the fact that he holds his stick straight up in the air when he sprints, but he looked very active on the PK both with his body and his stick in passing lanes. One of the few penalty killers I took note of.