Monday, September 13, 2010

Capitals Rookie Camp 2010 -- Day 1

And so it begins.  The 2010-2011 hockey season got off to a spirited start today as the Capitals held their first on-ice day of rookie camp, and if there was a theme today it was “skate, skate, and skate some more.”  The first day of a Bruce Boudreau rookie camp seems like a test of sorts, evaluating just how in-shape the kids are and challenging the youngsters to push through what fatigue they have as they get their skating legs under them.

It wasn’t an especially noteworthy day in terms of any one player standing out (although the coaches, with their fine eye for technical detail, no doubt have their early opinions).  It wasn’t especially noteworthy in the stands, either, as the combination of a 10:00 Sunday start and it being Opening Day of the NFL season (sorry, we don’t count Thursday games) kept the crowd light.  There were a couple of on-ice surprises early, though.  Goaltender Braden Holtby was on hand for this session, despite his being a “veteran” in this setting.  He and the other three goalies on hand – the others being Philipp Grubauer, Jared DeMichiel, and Brandon Anderson – were on the ice before the skaters came on, taking shots from coaches Mark French and Troy Mann.  Personally, we just think Holtby wanted to show off his new mask…

The other surprise was Zach Miskovic taking the ice for a prolonged skating session.  Miskovic injured his knee in development camp in July and had been listed as “week-to-week.”  Even if he doesn’t take the ice for drills this week or next, it was good to see him out there testing his wheels.

What isn’t surprising is the roster.  You will find a relative few number of “first timers” at this camp, and in fact there is a substantial number of players here that have been through the drills in past years.  In addition to Kugryshev, players such as Trevor Bruess, Anton Gustafsson, Jake Hauswirth, Cody Eakin, Joe Finley, Josh Godfrey, and Braden Holtby are “veterans” of this phase of development.

Today’s session was broken into two parts, and there seemed to be a marked difference in energy level from the first to the second.  In the second, the high-tempo of the opening round seemed to be taking its toll on some players.  That was merely prelude to the entertainment portion of the day.  Call them “herbies,” bag skates,” “sprints into the maw of hell,” it is the annual rite of September that informs the rookies, “this is for real.”  We have our own soft spot for Dmitry Kugryshev, who in his last two experiences on opening day at Kettler found himself in a four point stance, his face buried in the ice (we’d last about six strides before collapsing in a viscous puddle of goo).  We wondered if he would go for the trifecta today.  But give the kid credit, he remained upright (sort of) throughout the drill, which is better than a few of this teammates.  More than a couple found themselves in the prone position, including young Mr. Grubauer, but one has to give him a break with his hauling that equipment around for a couple of hours – plus the pre-skate drills.

Two more days of practice, followed by a Wednesday scrimmage, before the Caps rookies take on the Flyers’ rookies on Thursday.  There is a lot of stuff to cover in a short few hours of hands-on on-ice time before the vets take over the rink next Saturday.  In the meantime...

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