Habs Training Camp on-ice Day #1
Well, its that time of year again, the habs hit the ice today for their first day of on-ice drills and scrimmages at 4-glaces Pierrefonds arena. The players as usual were divided into 2 groups (red and whites) and practiced in separate rinks for 45 minutes before joining each other for a 60 minutes (2 30 minute halfs) game.
I followed team-red for the 45 minute practice. The notable players in this group were Alex Kovalev, Mike Ribeiro, Sergei Samsonov, Sheldon Souray, Craig Rivet and David Aebischer. It was clear early on that the coaches wanted to establish some chemistry between players, as Ribeiro/Kovalev/Samsonov were together in one group (and later formed a line in the scrimmage) and Koivu/Ryder/Higgins were together in group-white, Carbo seems to be using the lines he plans on using in the regular season right off the bat in training camp, he’s keeping the NHL players together and having the rookies/prospects play on the same lines. Team red was coached by Melanson and Jarvis, while team white was led by Carbonneau and Muller (not 100% sure though).
The players took part in the usual drills, it was hard for me to focus in on any one player, as the arena was absolutely packed with fans. I could barely see one end of the ice-surface for the first half of the scrimmage, if you want detailed player reports you’ll have to look elsewhere, sorry.
The game ended in a 3-3 tie. The top performers in the game were by far the line of Samsonov-Ribeiro-Kovalev, the line seemed to have instant chemistry, and accounted for 2 of their teams 3 goals (one by Ribeiro and Kovalev). Kovalev looked like a man playing against peewees, as usual. As for team white, their top line of Higgins/Koivu/Ryder also had a goal and did not show much rust. Koivu’s vision did not seem to be a problem from what I could see, he completed many great looking tape to tape passes, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one. The scrimmage resembled a relaxed all-star game at the start, but got more and more intense as it progressed, Komisarek, Begin and Downey made sure of that by throwing their weight around. One thing that caught my eye was that Sergei and Andrei Kostitsyn were seperated onto different teams (Sergei alone on white, Andrei with fellow belarussian Grabovski on red), as far as I know Sergei has been used as an english-translator for his fellow countrymen, so it was odd to see them seperated.
Following the game the players took part in a shootout. Samsonov and Ribeiro both scored beautiful goals by way of the deke.
I’ll finish off the article listing who impressed me today, and who was a disappointment, but please keep in mind, this is only the first day of training camp, one day doesnt mean much. Plus, again keep in mind that my view throughout the day was obstructed by many many other fans.
Mike Johnson: Wow, this guy could end up being a steal from Phoenix. He’s really fast and has some underrate offensive skills.
Mikhail Grabovski: The skill is evident, he just needs to adapt to the NHL game (learn to take hits, stop trying to do it all yourself, etc).
Mike Komisarek: He’s starting to control the games, its great to see. He’s so confident out there right now.
Carey Price: Solid as usual, he’s one of the best technical goalies I’ve seen (well, as far as prospects go).
Saku Koivu: Looked like he was in mid-season form on the ice. I’ve got a feeling that everyone is going to stop worrying about his eye pretty quickly.
Kovalev/Ribeiro/Samsonov: If they keep up the pace they showed today they have the potential to be one of the top lines in the NHL.
G.Latendresse: Where’s 2005 Latendresse? Who’s this new guy? (okay, I can be patient… its only been one day)
Rivet/Souray: Looked a bit rusty… But they’ll be ready for the season, no doubt in my mind. Its not a sprint, its a marathon.