Head Coach Bruce Boudreau 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.
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.
-Scrimmages begin Wednesday at 3:30pm .