It’s been awhile, but the Canadiens players are finally back on the ice together as a team. On-ice practice sessions kicked off today in Pierrefonds at the 4-glace sportsplex.
The players hit the ice at 10am in 2 separate groups, the groups were randomly (and fairly) divided. I followed the White group the entire day, this group included Koivu, Theodore, Zednik, Ryder among others. Andre Savard and Doug Jarvis led this group through the drills, starting off with some simple passing drills, one on one, to two on two, etc. Nothing noteworthy happened during this session, most players were just working off the rust. Carey Price let in a few soft goals, but he’s definitely got raw ability, he just needs to refine it. Jeff Paul also caught my attention, as he showed some nice physical play in the one on one drills. The arena was very full, so it was difficult to follow all of the action.
10:45am: Scrimmage. Team A (White) faced off against team B (red) in a 60 minute (two 30 minute half) game. It was Theodore vs Danis for the 1st half, and Halak vs Price for the second half.
Right off the bat it was Guillaume Latendresse who stole the show and caught my attention, he was making things happen offensively everytime he hit the ice, along with throwing thunderous hits (notable one on Jeff Paul). The hype machine on Latendresse is going crazy right now, but for good reason after what he showed today.
The star of the game was easily Kovalev, who looked like a man among boys out there. Alexei scored the first goal of the game (backhander on Theodore) and later assisted on another. Locke and Ribeiro had the other goals for team red. Team Red dominated the game and ended up winning 3-0.
After the game the groups re-split into two. I again stayed with the white team to watch the skating drills. After that the teams left the ice, only the goalies, Melanson and a couple of players (shooters) stayed to do some goaltending training.
– Peter Vandermeer looked very good today, he’s got very decent stickhandling abilities, and is a good skater. He definitely surprised me today. He could end up being a steal for the habs the same way Begin was.
– Higgins looked to be in mid-season form, I was very impressed with the way he played today. Looks like he’s going after a spot on the Habs hard.
– Most of the vets looked rusty, in particularly Koivu who couldnt hit the side of a barn today. But hey, its the first day of camp… It’s to be expected.
– Mark Streit looked bigger then I expected.
– The arena was jammed packed today, loads of media were present.
HABS FULL ROSTER (IMAGE)