RED: Corey Perry - Ryan Getzlaf - Dany Heatley
WHITE: Emerson Etem - Rickard Rakell - Nick Ritchie
WHITE: Nic Kerdiles - Nate Thompson - Tim Jackman
BLACK: Chris Wagner - David Steckel - Matt Beleskey
BLACK: John Kurtz - Charlie Sarault - Joseph Cramarossa
BLACK: Ben Lovejoy - Cam Fowler
WHITE: Hampus Lindholm - Francois Beauchemin
WHITE: Josh Manson - Brendan Bell
BLACK: Andrew O'Brien
Frederik Andersen - John Gibson
Arrived a good half an hour before the scheduled start time to see the goalies working drills. The trio of drills I saw emphasized movement, squareness and puck tracking, forcing the goalies to pick up shots from three separate parts of the ice. Andersen appeared more crisp in his lateral movement, quickly squaring up to and stopping shots while staying more vertical and thus appearing larger in the net. Conversely, Gibson appeared to rely much more on athleticism, with more of his body moving as he pushed laterally across the crease. Of note there were two separate instances where drills were stopped and pointers were given about stick location, as with his more aggressive movement it would prevent his butterfly block from being as complete as possible. Just something to keep in the back of your head while watching Gibson this season.
Kerdiles and Kurtz were the first two skaters to hit the ice, with vets Jackman and Beauchemin following thereafter. Once the full team hit the ice, the drills consisted of zone exits using the sideboards and stretch passes to the red line. It's funny watching Perry, as he's always throwing the puck at the net no matter the circumstance when the situation allows. The players audibly popped for Rakell deflecting a Manson shot from the point past Andersen stick-side, a nice tip of a shot that appeared to be going wide at about Andersen's shoulder height and was knocked down between his outstretched blocker and pad.
With the odd number of defensemen there were occasions where the pairings would switch, leading to an amusing moment where Steckel stepped in to play a defense spot. There were few instances where Bruce Boudreau would stop drills when passes went to the wrong area of players were out of position, but on the whole the execution of each drill matched what you'd expect based on skill level of the participants.
For the 25 minute scrimmage the top line dominated play regardless of who they were matched up against, creating the vast majority of the offense and switching sides following the lone goal. Andersen tended the nets for the black squad with Gibson working for the white shirts, and each had their moments of intrigue. Andersen made a nice glove save on a Heatley chance early in the session from the top left hashmark, but Heatley would get the lone goal deflecting a Perry shot from the top of the right circle then whacking the rebound home.
One of the undercurrents of the entire practice was the physicality Lovejoy challenged Ritchie with, bodying up on the rookie during both the drills and scrimmage. The 2014 first rounder battled, but spent much of the time near the side wall in the defensive zone and outside the slot while on offense. Fellow rookie Kerdiles appeared much more comfortable with contact, driving a lot of it and being a general bother. Once the goal was scored the top liners switched sides and the balance of the attack shifted in favor of the white sweaters.
After drawing plaudits during the Futures Game against San Jose, Manson had a few impacting moments in the scrimmage, as he showed comfort jumping up into the offense and either carrying to the high slot to make a pass or getting there to shoot. Thompson was the center most often on the ice with Manson, and would immediately drop back to cover for the young defenseman whenever he joined the play. In a particular standout moment Manson got caught on a pinch, but Thompson was able to slow down a 3-on-2 with Beauchemin and allow his teammates to recover. It was exactly the kind of responsible play the Ducks will need from their lower line center this season.
Gibson was more adventurous handling the puck than Andersen, on occasion getting caught out of position but able to recover each time. However on a chance created by a Getzlaf interception of an intended neutral zone outlet by Beleskey, Gibson was quick and square making the stop on a Perry wrist shot off the quick pass to the high slot, applying a point focused on in the goalie-only session. Getzlaf had another interception that created an opportunity, only for Lovejoy to make a clean sliding pokecheck on his belly to deny it, the kind of play that will be closely scrutinized with the new NHL rules. Rakell had one of the better chances for the white side, accepting a Manson feed in the right circle and ripping a wrister that rattled Gibson up high.