The boys were back on the ice today for a high-spirited, fun-filled practice out at K-Plex. (Anyone else scared at how quickly Corey got that into the Caps' fan vernacular?? Me, too.) Lots of smiles, lots of playing around, but some good work getting done as well.
Seen and heard:
- You can see Capitals Insider for the lines they were rolling in today's scrimmage - it's really nothing different than what we've seen over the last week, though, so no surprises on that end. Defensive pairings are still being tossed around and mixed up all over the place, with no end in sight. This is one of those battles that looks tougher every day and probably won't be settled until all the preseason games have been played.
- Speaking of which, it's disturbing that Eminger has yet to play in a preseason game. Well, disturbing if you're an Eminger fan, and I still am. I just don't think he's quite done showing us what he's got yet, although his "just fine" performance so far in training camp isn't going to hold up against the stellar showings by some of his colleagues. Like, for example, Mike Green, who is blowing me away.
- Semin-Nylander-Backstrom...wow. There is some serious chemistry being created there, folks.
- This may be obvious, but if you want to win shootouts? Put Viktor Kozlov in there. Forget about the fact that he had more shootout goals last season than the whole Caps roster put together (that jaw-dropping number would be 5, by the way...). During practice today Hanlon would frequently pause the scrimmage and do mini-shootouts and Kozlov absolutely undressed Kolzig with a nifty shot, top corner.
- Actually, if Eminger is still here I say give him a shot in the extra frame as well - his turn came around and he showed off some stunning moves that were almost as pretty as Kozlov's, drawing some happy shouts (of which none were mocking, I'm sure) from his team when he scored. Finally, a little life from Stevie.
- At one point during the scrimmage Morrisonn basically knocked Ovie on his rear, which his team absolutely loved. Ovie was not impressed.
- Scrimmage was very controlled, including mock power play, penalty killing and four on four situations amid the usual end to end play. Both goalies looked pretty sharp, although Johnson actually outdueled Olie this time around and continues to have a strong camp. Hope he doesn't use it all up before the season starts.
- At about noon the fire alarm inexplicably starts to go off (later we find out thanks to Tarik that some idiot pulled the alarm). Flashing strobe lights, loud siren...awesome. Does that stop practice? Not at all. The players stopped, looked around for a minute, and continued playing. The assorted spectators barely flinched. I found this particularly funny for some reason - my father remarked that we were all either incredibly single-minded or incredibly stupid. I said there was no reason for the two to be mutually exclusive. The alarm...went off...for 45 minutes. Ouch.
- After "formal" practice ended things kind of dissolved into a free-for-all, with various drills and games and miniature coaching sessions taking place all over the ice. My favorite was Jurcina and Fleischmann who worked on battling for the puck along the boards...all around the rink. The funny part was that those two seem to get such a kick out of each other it usually ended up being nothing more than a very smiley wrestling match.
- Meanwhile about 10 players lined up around Olie and proceeded with a fascinating drill where one guy would shoot the puck from the slot; the two or four players closest to the net would then try to get the puck past Olie, with varying results. They then rotate around and the next guy takes a shot, and so forth. When a guy got it in with one shot (as Matt Bradley did) there was celebration ; when they miss the net they were mocked and jeered incessantly (as Matt Bradley was on his next attempt). I'll try to have video of this up at some point later today.
Update: I promised video later today, and it's still today (for another half hour...just under the wire!) I recommend putting the volume on low because of the fire alarm, but I had to leave the sound in there so you can hear the cheering and taunting. Plus then you get to hear the lovely sound that Tarik and I, along with about a dozen other people plus the Caps themselves, were treated to for almost an hour. Fun.
Here are the boys being, well, boys:
- For some reason after going back to the locker room following practice, Clymer reemerged still in his hockey gear from the waist down...and in just a shirt and a backwards baseball cap on top. He then talked to Jay Leach for a while, flew around the rink a few times, and left again. Now I'm not complaining, of course - I am human after all. I just thought it was strange.
So there you have it. The boys looked nice and relaxed for tomorrow, ready to take on Carolina in the home preseason debut - and once again after sitting through practice I am thankful that I don't have GMGM's job. This is getting a little crazy.