RED: Jakob Silfverberg - Ryan Kesler - Patrick Maroon
WHITE: Andrew Cogliano - William Karlsson - Devante Smith-Pelly
WHITE: Brad Winchester - Louis Leblanc - Max Friberg
BLACK: Brandon Yip - Matt Bailey - Stefan Noesen
BLACK: Kenton Helgesen - Antoine Laganiere - Steve MacIntyre
WHITE: Bryan Allen - Kevin Gagne
WHITE: Mat Clark - Nathan McIver
BLACK: Clayton Stoner - Sami Vatanen
BLACK: Jesse Blacker - Mark Fistric
Igor Bobkov - Jason LaBarbera
Once again the goalies hit the ice first for position-specific drills, the same set run through by Frederik Andersen and John Gibson in the morning. The Ducks collection of goalies is in line with the trend of increased stature between the pipes, with Gibson and LaBarbera slightly above league average at 6'3", Andersen at 6'4", and Bobkov at 6'6". The biggest difference between the expected NHL netminders and the likely AHL duo is how they use their size and adapt to issues of being bigger. For Bobkov's part the coaching focused on positioning, getting him to play slightly further out so as to increase blocking size while cutting down potential need for reaction time-based saves such as high to the glove side. LaBarbera worked on remaining compact on his cross-crease movement to reduce getting beaten between stick hand and body on his butterfly slide.
MacIntyre and Noesen were amongst the first skaters to hit the sheet for the second session, as the coaching staff put the Ducks through the same zone entry and exit drill sets. An early moment that took the breath out of those in attendance was a center ice collision between Allen and Kesler, as the defender stepped up at the red line and laid out Anaheim's offseason trade prize with a low check that appeared to connect hip and knee. Kesler would get up gingerly but finished the practice not noticeably worse for wear, contributing to several offensive chances in the scrimmage.
Passing was much more station to station, with fewer attempts at longer passes and more moves chipping up the wall. An additional wrinkle was added with a building chip and forecheck drill, which involved one skater dumping the puck in against five defenders, retrieving the puck at center after clearance and getting an additional skater to the point where it became five on five. Leblanc and Yip were amongst the standouts in harrassing the defense in odd-man situations.
As in the opening session the red line split time between black and white sides, however instead of switching on a goal it came at the midway mark of the 25 minute scrimmage. With the red line opening skating with the black sweaters, Stoner had a nice stretch feed up the wall for Silfverberg to tip into the zone that created an early chance. Bobkov was tested again on a giveaway by Clark near the slot to Yip, but made the butterfly save. On a line change Laganiere created a turnover in the neutral zone, spinning a free charging Maroon up the far wall who then made a perfect cross-slot pass to Silfverberg who roofed it top corner. Vatanen was continually a danger offensively with several incisive passes that created easy zone entries and shots, an easy eye-test verification of his much lauded WOWY numbers.
Though Vatanen spent much of the scrimmage skating with Stoner, when the red shirts switched sides he took a shift with Fistric. As in the first game the white side would begin to press the offense bolstered by the reds, including a courageous power rush by Smith-Pelly that saw him truck Stoner and nearly create a scoring opportunity. As the offensive pressure continued forward, Allen expanded his physical tone in shutting down counter-attacks. Smith-Pelly sprung Cogliano up the far wing for a nice drive at the net that LaBarbera stood his ground on, and Cogliano's speed would create a couple other chances with quick moves around the net. Maroon appeared comfortable in powering up the wall to create space for Kesler, speaking to his recent mentioning of wanting to be more of an offensive presence this season.
A point to watch in Norfolk for the goaltenders will be rebound control, as Bobkov did well in directing many of the shots he faced away from dangerous areas. Conversely, the puck seemed to come off LaBarbera's pads as if off a pillow and land in trouble spots that required prompt clearance by his defenders. Laganiere had some nice moments on the forecheck, able to create an opportunity against the run of play with some good work below the goal line syncing up with MacIntyre. In the last minute the white team pulled Bobkov for an extra attacker and Yip scored a scrimmage-ending empty netter, the final result of the forechecking pressure by MacIntyre and Bailey.
As the Ducks head into tomorrow's exhibition opening split squad pair of games against the Avalanche be sure to check back for continuing season opening coverage.