I find it odd that the Centennial Sportsplex is closed to the public on Sundays but budget costs and this economy have caused this. Let me assure you that the Preds had no intention to make the scrimmage closed to the public it was just a timing thing that didn’t work out for the fans. That, I guess, is where I come in. I did my very best today to chronicle what occurred before and during the scrimmage today.
The day was started with goalie coach Mitch Korn putting the guys through his drills. They are quite interesting and I wanted to describe them to those of you who have never witnessed them in action.
One of the drills (which I call 1v1) has a player make 3 crisp passes to the goalie. The goalie is supposed to return the passes quickly. After the 3rd pass the forward drives in from 25 ft and tries to score. This drill was by far my favorite of the day.
Another one has a forward positioned just behind the net on each side. The goalie passes to one of them twice, then the puck is sent to the other side and the forward shoots the puck on the near side.
Also there is a drill in which the goalie has a wall placed in front of him and pucks are sent under the wall and also shot from the sides of goal where a forward is planted.
Lastly at the end of goalie drills coach Korn had the goalies playing a form of tag where the goalies were skating full blast chasing each other. This one was by far the drill that induced the most laughter.
Helping out with the drills today were J.P. Dumont, David Legwand, Nick Spaling, Ryan Jones, Mark Santorelli, Jonathon Blum, and Mike Santorelli.
Some impressions I took from the drills:
- Pekka Rinne probably has the best lateral movement from all the goalies.
- Dan Ellis looks like he hasn’t missed a beat from the 08 playoffs.
- At the end of 1v1’s Ellis made a spinning save in which he flipped over. It was quite the sight and something he apparently does at the end of most practices. (See the Dumont quote down below)
- Drew MacIntyre struggled at first with some of the drills but you have to remember that this is likely the first time he has done the Mitch Korn drills.
- Chet Pickard was welcomed into the NHL by Dumont and Legwand in the 1v1 drill. They were scoring on him a fair bit and it had to be tough to get put in that situation at your first training camp.
- Mark Dekanich appeared to struggle with puck handling.
- Ryan Jones is very good with the puck in tight around the goalie. He scored a couple times on the drill in which the forward comes out from behind the net and shoots near side.
- J.P. Dumont was scoring with ease in some of the drills. He was making things look easy out there.
On to the scrimmage we go which means it is time to bust out the Felder Format for the first time:
The Silver squad played the role of home team and was comprised of such players as Pred Captain Jason Arnott, Martin Erat, Vern Fiddler, Scott Nichol, Nick Spaling, Andreas Thuresson, Jordin Tootoo, Jonathon Blum, Greg DeVries, Cody Franson, Dan Hamhuis, Ville Koistinen, Teemu Laakso, and others. The starting goalie for the Silver squad was Pekka Rinne.
The Blue squad included Radek Bonk, J.P. Dumont, Patric Hornqvist, Ryan Jones, David Legwand, Rich Peverley, Antti Pihlstrom, Mike Ryan, Jerred Smithson, Kevin Klein, Alexander Sulzer, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Greg Zanon, and others. The starting goalie for the Blue squad was Dan Ellis.
After two 45 minute scrimmage sessions the teams came away with a 4-4 tie thanks in part to the shootout skills of the Silver squad. The play today was pretty clean but as time progressed things got more and more chippy.
Felder’s Fantastic Five
1. J.P. Dumont – J.P. tallied twice in the scrimmage. Dumont showed tremendous leadership by leading the Blue squad in goals thanks in part to some great chemistry with linemates Peverley and Hornqvist. Dumont tallied on one-timers from some nice cross ice passes.
2. Scott Nichol – Scooter tallied the first goal of the game after receiving a great back door pass from Triston Grant. This goal was the only one scored when the starters were in. Nichol also tallied in his shootout attempt, beating Dekanich high glove
3. Ryan Jones – A pretty significant difference in Jones play today. I would have to say that Jones game translates much better 5 on 5 than it does in drills like yesterday. Jones took a pass from Mike Ryan, who had to dig the puck out from the corner, and set up Weber for a real nice goal. Also, Jones showed a real drive and played physical when needed. One of his hits even took out two Silver squad players at one time…
4. Pekka Rinne – Pekka stopped everything thrown at him. He not only posted a shutout in his ice time but also stopped all 3 shooters against him in his shootout stint. Rinne stopped Dumont, Peverley, and Bonk.
5. Patric Hornqvist – Patric showed his skills at setting up goals today. His cross-ice feed to Dumont got the scoring started for the Blue squad. Hornqvist is willing to throw the body around a bit and also work hard for pucks in the corner. Although Hornqvist is projected as a goal scorer he really played well and developed a good chemistry with Dumont and Peverley today.
- Lines for today’s squads were: SILVER: Fiddler-Arnott-Mark Santorelli, Erat-Tootoo-Spaling, Grant-Nichol-Thuresson, Geoff Peters-Brandon Buck-Kelsey Wilson, Maki-Werner-Thuresson. D-PAIRINGS: Hamhuis-Franson, Laakso-Koistinen, Blum-DeVries, Dietrich played with different pairings.
- BLUE: Dumont-Peverley-Hornqvist, Jones-Legwand-Ryan, Pihlstrom-Ward-Bonk, Mike Santorelli-Jerred Smithson-Gratton. Ian McKenzie played on different lines. D-PAIRINGS: Weber-Sulzer, Suter-Mathson, Klein-Zanon, Ford played with different pairings.
- Ryan Jones made a hit right in front of the Blue squad bench. This hit was big as it took out 2 Silver squad players in just one blow.
- Rinne made a great backdoor stop on Smithers who was given a nice feed by Mike Santorelli.
- Josh Gratton and Kelsey Wilson dropped the gloves in the lone fight of the day. A pretty fair tussle in which Wilson led early, Gratton connected a couple times 3/4th through the fight, and Wilson finished fine. I give the slight nod to Wilson with the win in the fight.
- Smithson was flying around playing his style of game. He had at least 6 hits on the day. One of his biggest hits occurred when he came flying in on the backcheck and rocked Werner from behind.
- Peters prevented a goal with a great break up of a cross ice play between Peverley and Dumont.
- Erat made a nice pass on a 3v2 in which Spaling was the trailing man. Ellis was up to the task though and made a glove save on Spaling.
- The lone goal in the 1st portion of the session was scored by Nichol who buried a back door chance on Ellis.
- Erat was gliding and dancing through the D today. He looked strong as usual.
- At the end of each portion of the scrimmage the goalies partake in a shootout before changing out. In the 1st shootout featuring Ellis and Rinne the lone goal came from Ville Koistinen who beat Ellis. This gave the Silver squad a 2-0 lead.
- In the 2nd portion of the scrimmage Dekanich and MacIntyre were in net.
- Vern Fiddler put Scott Ford in boards twice in one shift. They had a decent battle going all morning.
- In a slightly scary moment Erat flipped over the back of Zanon along the boards. Thankfully Erat landed on his skates and was fine.
- Pihlstrom and Gratton were doing their fair share of hitting in the scrimmage.
- The Blue squad finally got on the board as Patric Hornqvist sent a beautiful cross ice feed to Dumont. J.P. was set up at the side of the net and snuck the puck in high near side on MacIntyre. This made the score 2-1 Silver.
- Soon after Mike Ryan dug the puck out of the corner and pushed the puck to Ryan Jones. Jones was parked behind the net and saw Shea Weber sneaking into the slot. Jones promptly fed Weber the puck and Shea buried the one timer to tie the scrimmage up at 2 all.
- After the switch to the other rink we have our 2nd shootout. This time Nichol scored on Dekanich. Fiddler snuck the puck in 5-hole on Dekanich. Blue Squad takes the lead with the shootout victory 3-2.
- In the final portion of the scrimmage we saw a possible World Juniors preview with Jeremy Smith and Chet Pickard in net.
- Ian McKenzie scored on Pickard 5-hole and tied the scrimmage up at 3.
- Cody Franson got tag teamed in the corner once as Gratton and Smithson both hit him in a sandwich fashion.
- Jonathon Blum looked very sound in his positioning all day. I’ve noticed that me makes up for lack of size by being very crafty and having great awareness of the plays.
- Ryan Jones looks real good today. In one shift he put on a great hit along the boards, then went and got the puck, took it across the blueline and launched a shot on goal. Just a great shift that really showed what Jones can bring.
- Jordin Tootoo got his big hit of the day when he sent Scott Ford halfway into his own bench.
- Dumont scored in front of the net after a nice pass from Rich Peverley. This put the Blue squad up 4-3.
- The Silver squad would need to win the shootout to tie the game at 4. Nick Spaling led things off for Silver and tallied on a beautiful deke. He simply got Smith to move to the right and scored sliding the puck just past the outstretched left leg pad.
- Spaling scored the only shootout goal and thus the scrimmage ended in a 4-4 tie.
Peverley on his chemistry with Dumont – “He’s such an incredible player. He’s an All Star in this league and anytime I get an opportunity to play with him I love it. I got a chance to play with him a little bit last year in the Detroit series and he’s a smart player so I love playing with him.
Dumont on his play with Peverley – “I had a few games last year with Richie and he’s a guy with great skills and he’s battling for a spot this year because he wants a higher ranking on the team. We all don’t want to take anything easy and it showed yesterday.”
Dumont on his play with Hornqvist – “Well that pass that he made to me backdoor was just, you work hard down low and get the puck and it just came out. He’s got great vision and great hockey skills. I love those plays, I’m not going to lie to you, that was a great pass he made there and a great play before that. He knows the game and works really hard on the ice.”
Dumont on Dan Ellis’ spinning save to end the 1v1 drill – “That’s what he does at the end of every practice when we are down to the last puck. If it’s working he can keep doing it but he has to be careful out there! (laughs)”
Ryan Jones on his first impressions of camp with the Preds – “Well it’s a little different. It’s my first camp so I didn’t really have anything to base it off of. I came in early to skate with the guys and this is obviously a step up from that, the games will be a step up from this and then regular season games will be a step up from that so it’s a lot faster, the guys move the puck quicker, so basically I’m just trying to stay with my game and not really step away from it too much.”
Jones on his style of play – “I’m a power forward player so I play a puck possession game, try to grind it out down low, look for guys open out front, and I just try to get to the front of the net, get in front of the goalie and clean up the garbage.”
Barry Trotz on his impressions of the young guys in scrimmage – “I was really happy with that group. There wasn’t much separation so I was really happy with that. I was impressed with some of the young guys especially on defense. Laakso and Sulzer I was really impressed with and they are competing for that next level, those depth levels. I was really happy with that whole group overall. It was really a good first day.”
Trotz on Ryan Jones - “Sometimes you just watch practice and Jonesy in practice blends in. But when you put 5 opponents on the ice and the game starts he always seems to be around the puck and the net. He made a real good play on that goal. That’s part of our game. It was textbook. Get on the forecheck, separate someone, get a loose puck with quick support and activate people from the backend and that’s how they score so it was sort of the textbook Predator game right there.”
All in all it was a really good morning and very nice to see some real hockey action going on. Due to school I won’t be able to attend anymore practices this week but you can expect my normal post-game coverage of the 1st preseason game against Atlanta this Thursday night. I’m looking forward to it and hope to see you there.
Till next time, take care…
Questions, comments, and criticisms are welcome and can be directed to b[email protected] if you wish to contact me personally