Let it be known that Matt Bradley was the first Capital to take the ice on Day One of Training Camp 2008...
It was two sheets and all hockey, all the time today, as the Caps cracked open the 2008-2009 season with three groups taking the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
Today, for lack of a better term, was Skating Day, as the coaching staff put the groups through a high-tempo workout that emphasized skating…a lot of end-to-end work that got the legs used to what’s coming over the next couple of weeks.
Perhaps the best single thing to come out of today’s work was this…
Chris Clark and Michael Nylander taking the ice in Group III in the afternoon (matched with Tomas Fleischmann as the “red” forward line). Both looked rather smooth in drills.
There were a couple of dicey moments, both of which occurred in the Group III session, as Tom Maxwell took a puck to the leg that left him in a heap, crawling on all fours to the bench, where he was worked on. We didn’t see him return. There was also the matter of Quintin Laing dinging a shot off the side of Brent Johnson’s noggin, hitting him flush in the side of the mask. Johnson didn’t look the worse for wear, though, as he and Laing stood together at the next rinkside huddle smiling about it.
No one looked to be laboring, even with the tempo of the drills – hopefully a reflection of an attitude of taking this year seriously from the get-go. No one was taking shortcuts…ok, there was that cutting short the lap Mike Green pulled off when he was late getting back to the huddle at rink-side.
From development camp, rookie camp, and now the first day of training camp, there is certainly an impression that Coach Boudreau and the Caps’ brain trust have it in their minds that they’re going to try to skate teams into dust. Guys who can’t skate are going to have a lot of trouble keeping up with the top-shelf players on this team.
Given that it is a gorgeous day here in the DC area, it was a well-attended session on both rinks. The stands on the Capitals rink looked about 90 percent full and the floor filled behind the glass for the morning Group I session (the one featuring Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, who was dressed in the orange sweater today). The Group II session on the Arlington rink (the one featuring Alexander Semin, Sergei Fedorov, Jose Theodore, and Donald Brashear) was ringed a couple deep with the upstairs filled. The Group III session on the Capitals rink at 12:30 (with Clark, Nylander, and Mike Green) looked to be about as filled as the morning session.
As journeyman catcher Jake Taylor put it in the movie, “Major League,” they don’t cut anybody the first day. It was just a day to soak in four hours of hockey (even if it was drills). Here are some images of the first day…