Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Glove and a Bucket...

Practice has its choreography, no matter what the sport. Pickoff moves and sliding drills in baseball, the blocking sled and footfire drills in football. This morning offered a look at what passes for the art in hockey as the kids took the ice in two groups. The first session had a distinctly different look and feel than did the second session. In that first session there appeared to be more plays involving more players, whereas the second session seemed to focus more on shooting (including tip drills and shooting rounds ) and more focus on the goalies (Daren Machesney and Simeon Varlamov; Michal Neuvirth, Dan Dunn, and Justin Mrazek having handled the first morning session).

You start to notice little things as time goes by…

-- Phil DiSimone with a dozen or so pucks in the slot…picking one up and then stickhandling through the rest before wristing a shot at the net…over and over until he’s out of pucks

-- Mathieu Perrault looking absolutely tiny out there

-- Nicklas Backstrom on one timers looking absolutely effortless

-- Oskar Osala looking like he has a future in the NHL

-- Viktor Dovgan looking like he was engaged in a little trash talking with Varlamov

-- Some guys looking comfortable out there, as if they’d been through this before (in some cases, they had) and others looking like they were feeling their way

-- Karl Alzner directing traffic on the ice

-- Machesney looking like he took another puck a little awkwardly, stinging him a little

-- Oscar Hedman getting a fair amount of attention and a pat on the back from Coach Evason a couple of times, maybe just as a pick-me-up

-- A long, long conversation at the bench after the session ended between Simeon Varlamov and coach Dave Prior. The Peerless is guessing they weren’t comparing notes on lunch spots in Ballston.

But what we were struck by most was something that seems to reflect the summer camp aspect of this week and the quirky nature that is hockey . . . there were a half dozen or so players at the far end of the rink, running a three-shot drill at the goalie. And there, as pylons for the skater to weave through as he took passes for the shots in the drill, was a glove laying in the face off dot and a bucket of pucks sitting in the slot. It reminded The Peerless of playing baseball as a youngster, when first base was a rock, second base was a slip of cardboard, and it was just fooling around. This isn’t fooling around by any means, but it seemed just the informal touch that makes this fun before all the seriousness starts in September…

…a glove and bucket.

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