"Just because the Goddamn puck comes out doesn't mean we quit playing! We go 'til the whistle!"Those words were after about 7 guys stopped skating when the puck came out of the zone. Hitch wasn't red faced, but the offenders took notice and didn't make the same mistake again. Neither did any of the other guys on the ice at the time.
And, those words describe pretty much the feel to training camp today...don't quit playing. It was up tempo, there was hitting, there was crisp passing, there was an all around workmanlike aspect to it. There's no loafing, not half-assing things. It doesn't mean this team is automatically playoff bound, but I think it does mean a change in attitude is already here.
I got to the Ice Haus at 9am today, so I saw all of Team White. Left a little before noon, so I saw about half of Team Blue. (Training camp roster.)
From Team White, a few impressions...
Derick Brassard is impressive. His skating is second to none, he's bulked up a little since we last saw him in Nationwide, and he's got a few skills. He left Fedorov flat footed on a move across the zone one time that raised a couple oohs. He looked pretty comfortable on the ice, too. He was skating with Chimera and Jiri Novotny, so no lack of speed in those three.
Chris Russell looked pretty solid. He's not real big, but he's never out of position and he's strong with the puck. Like to see a little more of him before saying he's awesome, but he looked pretty good.
Marc Methot was solid. He smoked a couple guys at the blue line, never backed down from anybody, and knocked Shelley off the puck a couple times. (No, Jody didn't just lose the puck, Methot removed him from it.) I was impressed overall by Marc's practice.
Gilbert Brule....wow I want this kid to step up, but I didn't see it this morning. He almost looks tentative, like he doesn't want to make a mistake. So he's skating 95% when he needs to be going full speed. On the upside, when they were cutting the ice, he went up to Feds and asked a few questions, and Fedorov provided plenty of feedback. They skated on the same line during practice, and when they weren't skating, you could see Feds pointing things out to Brule.
Ole-Kristian Tollefsen has picked up right where he left off. If there was a loud "BOOM!" from the boards, he was usually on the giving end of it. He gave no ground in his own zone, and was consistently the best defenseman in the group. Like to see him paired up with Russell for a pre-season game.
Chris Mason is going to make a lot of people in London smile this year. He flashed the glove a couple of times to snag pucks behind him, one got stick taps from his teammates while the crowd gave him a cheer.
Adam Foote left the ice early in the session. No word on what happened, he just kind of disappeared between drills.
From Team Blue, a few impressions...
The Nash-Zherdev-Vyborny experiment is beyond intriguing, I'm almost hoping it becomes a reality. These three were all over the place when they were out there together. If one of them can win face-offs, it could be interesting.
Rick Nash is as large as I've seen him. He was impressive all over the ice, but especially in front of the net. He had two or three different moves in one-on-one drills that crossed up the defenseman. At least one spin move that got a cheer out of the crowd, and an over all bull-in-a-china-shop approach to offense.
Geoff Platt kind of stood out, for his feet of course. I'm just amazed by how fast this guy is every time I see him.
I didn't see more of the team drills of this group as I had to leave, so not much more on the individuals. To be honest, I was pretty much focused on Nash, which was entertaining all by itself...