F Street Faithful
by Matthew Tate on 09/17/11 at 10:48 PM ET
Before I get into my personal observations from the first day of Caps’ training camp I want to pass along the biggest news of the day:
Tarik El-Bashir, of the Washington Post, reported earlier that Tom Poti did not pass his medical test on Friday. Poti has not played since January due to a groin problem.
I was running a little behind schedule today so I missed the majority of the first group. While I didn’t get to see the big guys (Ovechkin, Green, Semin…) skate in the group, I was able to catch the goaltender specific workout of group A. Aside from that I was able to catch all of the group B and C practices. Here are some things I noticed:
Maybe it was just time for a change or maybe he wanted to make a statement, but Michal Neuvirth’s new pads make him hard to miss. He performed well in the drills but looked a little weak on stick side. He is already fighting against the grain to be a starter so mistakes like that will need to be remedied.
He may not be a player anymore but it was still great to see Olaf Kolzig back out with the Caps. In case you missed it, Olie was brought in over the summer as an assistant goalie coach. From what I heard today, he was one of the most sought after people for autographs.
One of the lines put together in group B consisted of Mathieu Perreault, Joel Ward, and Chris Bourque. I realize that these combinations will change, but this trio seemed to really click. While I do not expect to see either Bourque or Perreault on the opening night roster, it is definitely good to see some chemistry developing so quickly between them.
As well as I thought Bourque performed in the drills, he did not match-up over on the conditioning drill. The drill was basically having the players skate the length of the ice 4 times followed by a short break; this was then repeated 5 times. Bourque finished top of his group on the first rep but his performance fell with each repetition. This did not seem to be a work ethic thing as much as it was a lack of endurance thing. He was not alone in this as Phil Oreskovic was gassed after his 3rd rep.
Jeff Schultz looked decent in the drills. He had a couple of good poke checks during some rush drills and seemed a little more ready to use his body than last year. The latter almost ended poorly when he nearly caught Perreault awkwardly along the boards. I will say that, like Bourque, he took a step back in conditioning. While we all know he doesn’t have a ton of speed he did look a little lazy out there.
While Schultz and Bourque let me down during conditioning, Matt Hendricks, Christian Hanson, and Dennis Wideman really stood out in that regard. Each finished near the top of his group during every rep. Hendricks seemed the happiest to be back on the ice; whether it was during drills or conditioning he always seemed to be chirping to someone. He looks like someone who is not going to be content with 4th line duty. Wideman’s success was probably the best news given the fact that his season last year was ended by a hematoma in his leg.
Stand-outs: Bourque (drills), Perreault, Hendricks
Forgettable: Carrier, Tabisz, Bourque (conditioning)
There is little doubt in my mind that the main star of this group was new goaltender, Tomas Vokoun. He seemed ready to finally play for a team with serious hopes for the playoffs. Whether it was odd-man rush drills or screens he pretty much ate everything up.
Dmitri Orlov was among the rookies invited into this group and he looked pretty good. I don’t know if it was just the specific drills he was running or if it is just his style, but he seemed to really like challenging guys in the neutral zone. It cost him a few times but he makes up ground decently. With the plethora of blue-liners on this team he is destined for Hershey but he can still put the pressure on.
Zach Miskovic seemed to struggle a bit throughout the day, specifically in the 2-on-2 drills. On multiple occasions he completely lost his man, which doesn’t bode well for a guy trying to hold his place on the organization’s depth chart. Unless he shows some improvement from today he will definitely find himself below newer guys like Orlov.
Chimera is still fast and actually might have better hands.
Stand-outs: Orlov, Vokoun, Brouwer
Forgettable: Lacroix, McFlickier, Carrol
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Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate. This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals. The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.
In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at York College of Pennsylvania. I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland.
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