Saturday, July 14, 2007


In the world of the culinary arts, the term “amuse-bouche” refers to those little bite-size savory morsels that precede the hors-d’oeuvres course. Literally, “an amusement for the mouth.” And what morsels we’ve been treated to this week to tease the hockey palate.

This evening was the climax of the week’s events, a scrimmage that at the last minute became a full three-period, 60 minute game. The Blue Team, with Simeon Varlamov and Daren Machesney in goal, and Nicklas Backstrom among the forwards, appeared to have the advantage as far as the lineups went. Although the White Team did fight Blue to more or less a stalemate in the first half of the game (the teams were tied 2-2 early in the second period, the Blue Team pulled away with a 7-3 win.

The outcome perhaps was not as important as some of the subplots within the game…

-- Simeon Varlamov looked a great deal sharper than he did in the morning session, not to mention a good deal more relaxed. He seemed to get into the flow of a game situation much better than he was able to do in the drills in the morning.

-- Nicklas Backstrom might have saved the best for last. He had a cagey way about him, able not just to anticipate teammates breaking open, but opponents looking to impede his progress or take advantage of him in the corners. He had a couple of especially sweet passes to set up scoring chances.

-- A game, as opposed to drills or scrimmages, brought out the ornery among the participants (or maybe it was just a week’s worth of familiarity wearing thin). Josh Godfrey and Jamie Hunt had a brief scuffle, and Viktor Dovgan threw his weight around more as the game wore on, inspiring a member of the White Team to throw several punches at him. Dovgan's expression looked like, “ . . . what?”

-- Machesney is a real chatterbox out there…he was very vocal in directing players in front of him as they were coming back to play the puck, much more so than any of the other netminders at The Peerless’ end of the ice.

-- Joe Finley saw ice time in the first period, but looked to have been on the shelf for the last 40 minutes.

-- It was another large crowd at KCI, standing room only in the back of the stands.

But in the end, it was a week of tasty morsels, courtesy of the youngsters who hope to be skating at Verizon Center before too long. Thanks, guys…

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