Head Coach Bruce Boudreau Losenoidoomock explains a drill to the red line.
Today marked the first day of practice at the Captials' Development Camp hosted by Kettler Ice Plex, and several invitees not on the original roster attended as well. A few things caught my eye today: Mathieu Perreault, Dmitri Orlov, and a remarkably tan head coach. Bruce Boudreau really got some color this summer.
The camp split into two groups, A which started on ice a little before 10:00am, and B, which began on ice at 2:30pm.
Josh Godfrey will join group B tomorrow.
Both sections followed the same schedule during practice, completing different cycling, skating, and shooting drills.
The on ice sessions ended with suicide sprints. Even from my seat in the bleachers, it’s clear they hurt. In Group A, Mitchell, Perrault, DeSimone, Flemming, and Glass all worked through them and finished looking strong, if not nauseous. Finley struggled with them. In Group B, Testwuide, Carlson, Bouchard, Eakin, and Orlov pushed hard the entire time.
Group A stretches and recovers after practice.
The last player to return to the huddle, after Boudreau whistled, skated a lap. For group A this was Broda, Bruess, and DeSimone. Group B’s were Casavant, Orlov, Bouchard, Fredricks, and Carlson.
Perreault was the one person that caught my eye during the first session. He is extremely fast and extremely small, listed as 5'9'' on the Capitals' website. The only way I can describe him is an Aucoin sized Ovechkin. Perreault evoked the same excitement Ovechkin does, although on a smaller scale (no pun intended). He rarely skates upwards, and is always pushing towards the puck or play. He is agile and has great balance, as well as puck control. He sent a few of his own rebounds into the net, top shelf. He even pulled an Ovie and collided with Holtby in the net during one drill. Boudreau said Perreault would be considered for the roster, and “worst case scenario, we know we can call him up at any point this year .”
On the goalie front, I was only on Holtby’s end during the first practice. It was evident he is very good with his glove hand, but he gave up an awful lot of rebounds. As practice progressed he improved and had some beautiful stops, but at times lost track of the puck and let it slip into parts of the net he neglected to cover. Several went in the high corners. He admitted he was rusty in an interview for Caps365 later.
Group A Notes:
-I am not impressed with Nils Backstrom, although he has a hard shot. He stumbled and fell a few times in the beginning; he was on the slower side.
-A lot of people are writing about how much they liked Finley. I was not as enamored as the other people in the stands. Maybe I am just wary of another Shultz on the way. His size is a great asset, but he seemed a little slow and definitely tired at the end.
-Flemming proved decent, stopping his opponents twice during a one-on-one drill, but he used his stick a lot. It made me nervous about some hooking penalties he could draw.
-Broda seemed comfortable with using his skates and the boards to play the puck. He also provided a presence in front of the net. Perreault batted a rebound mid-air, which Broda deflected in. It was a pretty goal.
Group B completed the same drills, although they moved through them a bit faster.
Beat reporters, coaches, and bloggers keep praising Carlson and Gustafsson, but Orlov deserves the same amount of recognition. The kid, who does not turn eighteen until the July 23, is levels above the other players on the ice. He can move the puck, steal the puck, and shoot the puck. His stick handling was beautiful to watch and so was his skating. He looked completely fluid when transitioning between skating forward and backward, stopping and starting. He also has a physical presence, despite his average size and young age. He caused Gustafsson to drop to the ice twice during one-on-ones. The first time Orlov came to a halt and let Gustafsson ram into him; Orlov did not move an inch but Gustafsson wound up on the ice, without the puck. The second, Orlov’s stick work stole the puck and left Gustafsson off balance and face-first seconds later. More about search engine optimization.
The Orlov-Carlson line was interesting; it dominated the attacking offense. Although both defensemen, they could make an interesting pair on a Power Play too. Orlov is able to move and shoot the puck well enough to justify this paring.
Group B Notes:
-Kugryshev stick handles well, and tends to shoot closer to the net and for the top shelves off of quick assists.
-Eakin appears to be a fan of chip passes.
-Meyer makes good, solid, quick passes and can deke a D-man well.
-Edmondson could become great assister. He set up Kearny and Gustafsson for goals during the two on goalie drill. He made some “no look” passes too.
-D. Carlson was very hot for a while, but as practice wore on, he wore out. He started loosing track of the puck and making silly mistakes; his facial expressions, evident through the goalie mask, made it clear he was tired and frustrated.
-Joe Benenati made an appearance. He said he came out to see Orlov, Gustafsson, and Carlson. He kept remarking how young they were, “born in ‘91!” and said he thought Carlson still needed to fill out more.
The initial signing of Michael Nylander had the makings of everything the Caps looked for on paper, but went against virtually most reports of GM George McPhee's stance of taking on long term contracts to players over 30.
Nylander at the age of 34 signed a 4 Yr $19.5M deal with a no trade clause in 2007 which years earlier (a no trade clause) was denied to Peter Bondra. All the pieces for a potential disaster in the making were set to occur. For a team with aspirations of becoming Stanley Cup Champion, it's Nylander's salary cap hit impacting personnel moves that's proving the most devastating.
It's not the player or agent's fault for getting the most money over the most number of years during contract negotiations. The Caps earned the right to another bad contract the hard way and signed the deal themselves. Two years into Nylander's contract it's easy to see the disappointment on both sides.
The contract situation should have been resolved well before the draft and free agency period. Now the Caps have let another offseason year go by with a significantly high salary cap hit that's hand cuffing potential roster moves.
The Solution: Take Action Like Dan Snyder
It's time for the Capitals to pull a Dan Snyder move. That's right! Redskins fans probably recall the infamous shot heard 'round the metro area after Laveranues Coles requested a contract extension that put the Santana Moss trade on hold. Snyder let him know that he'd send him a flat screen TV to watch games because he wouldn't be wearing a Redskins uniform the remainder of his contract. Eventually Coles was dealt for Moss.
A similar stance wouldn't hurt with Nylander. If Nylander wants to play hockey in the NHL then he has the power to remove the no trade clause, if he wants to play in Russia he also has the ability to make that happen, and if he refuses to take any action then he can file for retirement because the Caps need to let him know he's not in their plans - at all. The decision would then fall squarely on Nylander's shoulders and force a resolution. Where Nylander's career takes him is up to him, but the Caps shouldn't continue to wait for Nylander to have an epiphany for someone already out of favor with Coach Boudreau. See our seo hero now.
The Initial Plan
Washington hoped Nylander could be the offensive playmaking center that had been lacking in recent years, as well as provide the leadership for a young team. With Backstrom starting his NHL career in Washington all the pieces made sense with Ovechkin and Backstrom already on board. It's easy to confuse a mentor with true leadership. It didn't take long to find that Nylander's style of play didn't fit well with the players already in place and by the end of the 2009 playoff season he found himself barely playing.
A trade in the previous year's deadline brought the true leader onto the Capitals in Sergei Fedorov. The bond and kindred spirit Backstrom and Nylander share makes perfect sense. Nylander may make Backstrom feel more at ease in his new surroundings but leadership takes a stronger presence that never appeared from the high priced center. Leadership takes on the quality of lifting up a team and moving the players as a group into a certain direction or sometimes taking on a more difficult responsibility of calling players out to perform at a higher level or providing the steadying influence on a young team.
Nylander's salary cap space could have been used to acquire a defensive minded defenseman or to provide help along the top two forward lines. The longer the situation drags out the more embarrassment it becomes on both parties and prevents the Capitals from moving closer to their 2nd Stanley Cup appearance.
I will admit it; I've had some of the Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid, and I like what I taste.
Number one overall pick Matt Stafford made his NFL debut against the Atlanta Falcons Saturday and did not disappoint. Stafford went 7/14 with 114 yards, one TD and one INT. While it is by no means a perfect start, it is certainly a step in the right direction for the struggling franchise.
First off, just to let everyone know, I am from Detroit and I have been a die hard Detroit Lions fan for as long as I can remember. When most people find out I am a Lions fan they look at me like I am crazy. While I am not crazy, I won't give up on the team, especially since I stuck through an 0-16 season.
With that out of the way we can move on to Stafford.
Stafford was by no means perfect, but there weren't too many glaring problems. What people need to remember is that he is a rookie and rookies make mistakes. All things considered, his first start could have gone a lot worse. At least he didn't do his best a Kyle Orton impersonation.
An interception in the third was his biggest mistake. On third down in the third quarter, Stafford simply tried to do to much. He tried to fit the ball in a hole that didn't exist and it cost the team.
What is more important than the interception itself, is what he did after. The No. 1 pick had to take the field again immediately and led a successful touchdown drive. During the 80 yard drive he showed no hesitation, no fear and some serious arm strength.
Okay, enough with the professional writing; Stafford is something that I have been waiting for a long time. He showed composure and was a playmaker. His touchdown pass to Derrick Williams was something I haven't seen in years. Sure, Calvin Johnson has made catches in traffic, but a Detroit quarterback has not been fearless in years.
Even though I love what I see I do have a few concerns. Not to pick too much, but he does need to make some better decisions. While there weren't too many poor decisions, he did take a few too many risks. The decision making can be fixed however, and should not be too much of a concern.
I see a weapon when I look at his arm strength, accuracy and composure. One can only imagine what he will do when he comes under center in a regular season game. On top of seeing what he does in a real game, imagine what it will be like with the Lions' top receivers.
Detroit dropped a lot of passes today; it is not something to be proud of, but they also were without their top four receivers and tight end Brandon Pettigrew. I think Stafford will look much better with Calvin Johnson, aka Megatron, in at wideout.
All in all, there was good and bad. The kid made some good decisions and some not so good ones. To me, a Lions fan, I am just happy to see progress. On top of progress, it will be nice to watch a game and not worry about my quarterback stepping out of the back of the end zone.
While Detroit knows more than anyone that the preseason means nothing, we can't help but be hopeful. Along with the hope, it is nice to win for the first time in 11 months.
The main focus of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is on the players who are usual on the roster, but this year it was the smaller names who ended up winning it for the American League.
Tuesday night's game was the shortest game since 1988, but it wasn't short of excitement. While Monday night's focus was on home runs, Tuesday was all about pitching. The American League was able to out pitch the National league despite a rocky start from Roy Halladay. Both teams managed to throw under 120 pitches over eight pitchers, with the AL throwing 108 and the NL throwing 118.
Even though the pitching dazzled it was the AL reserves that ending up being the difference maker.
While Carl Crawford, Curtis Granderson and Adam Jones are not unknowns in the league, they certainly weren't supposed to be more valuable than Jason Bay and Nelson Cruz. See how the wix contest going
With the game tied at three in the seventh inning, Brad Hawpe hit a drive off of Jonathan Papbelbon. When it looked like it was all but out, Carl Crawford reached up and made what he called the best catch of his career. That grab not only earned him the MVP but most likely also saved the game. It was one of the most spectacular plays of the first half and definitely the play of the game.
In the next half inning it was Curtis Granderson's turn. With one and no one on, Granderson laced a hard hit ball off of Heath Bell over the head of Justin Upton. With the ball careening off of the wall Curtis rounded second and slid head first into the bag at third base. The NL decided to intentionally walk Victor Martinez to get to, what they believed was a non-threat, Adam Jones. After a lengthy at bat Jones finally hit one into the outfield scoring Granderson on the Sac Fly.
These three in the end were the difference makers for the American League, showing why the NL has been unable to win recently. While the NL may have starters to compete with the American League, its reserves are nowhere close the AL's. It is the second year in a row that the reserves have made the difference. Last year it was Justin Morneau and Michael Young who won it for the AL.
If the National League wants to come out of the Mid-Summer Classic with a win in the near future it needs to look past its starters. Sure, it is good to have a great starting line up, but in the end it comes down to the role players. The AL just simply has better ones and that is how they have been unbeaten 13 in a row.