Coach Crawford decided it was a good day to change things up a bit in Frisco this morning and turned his attention to something that killed the Stars on many, many nights last season: Special teams. Defensemen, in the practice preceding the scrimmage, worked on passing between points and firing the puck in from the blue line. Later, forwards worked in pairs staging a running four-on-four that swarmed back and forth in a drill utilizing the entire length of the practice rink.
I therefore should not have been surprised when the scrimmage started and they went 4 on 4 for the first 25 minutes, producing some nice goals with all that room to skate. The second half, however, featured alternating power plays for team black and team white, with each getting what I would call 6 or 7 full two minute man advantages (they even stopped the clock for whistles for this).
The result of the 12 to 14 power plays? One goal?
After the jump: Impressions on the scrimmage lines, the goal scorers and fun training camp notes...
Either you can say that the Stars killed penalties at a 93% clip today, or you can ask some questions about why, in a fairly friendly game with no hitting, was there only one goal scored. I'm leaning towards the latter.
Power play units were as follows:
Morrow and Ribeiro certainly don't have to make any excuses for their play today. They were once again creative and strong on the puck, possessing it for elongated sequences and creating plenty of traffic in front of the net. Their frustration was evident though, as Morrow cursed loudly while rejoining the bench and Ribeiro smacked the boards with his stick a few times. Those guys don't like to lose and they really wanted to get one. The defensive help was good in front of the net for the white team, and both Climie and Beskorowany did a great job of keeping pucks out.
Modano and Benn sure work well together. Jamie Benn scored the lone PP goal (emphatically) in the slot off a nice feed from Modano. Because one is on the way out and the other is barely on the way in, I don't know what that means in the long run, but they sure worked well together today. Perttu Lindgren was with them as well, but I wouldn't worry about that.
James Neal, Brad Richards and Sergei Korostin: I thought they would be good for two or three after I figured out the power plays were to continue throughout the session, but they were stimied, and sometimes failed to keep the puck in the zone for stretches. Face-offs are a subject for another day, but let's just say that today had me thinking about it.
Loui Eriksson, Steve Ott and Beaudoin were the second unit for the white team and I honestly don't really remember much that I'd like to put down here about that combination, at least not while on the PP. I'd sure like to see what a real PP unit is going to look like out there. Eriksson did have a great first half on a line with Peterson, and those guys connected on a fantastic rush with tic-tac-toe passing and a Peterson goal off a one-timer.
The good news about all of this is that it's almost meaningless to everyone who isn't Marc Crawford. (who, by the way, watched the scrimmage with Razor Reaugh, and recorded some stuff for Stars TV or something while play was happening). Adding to the meaninglessness (is that a word?) is the possibility that my observations are "rubbish". Now for something less subjective...
4 on 4:
White - Luke Gazdic (from Sergei Korostin)
Black - Mike Ribeiro roofed one over Marty's shoulder. It was sweet.
Black - Michael Neal scored off a rebound in front (I think Robidas took the first shot)
White - Petersen scored on one-timer from Loui Eriksson
Power Play Time:
Black - Jamie Benn scores on the PP off a nice pass from Modano
Black - Tyler Shelast scored an empty netter. He was stopped on a penalty shot earlier in the game by Marty (I think)
- Stephane Robidas was so Robi today. He's looking better than ever to me. I hope it transaltes to the games that count. (Or is it playing with Vishnevskiy? Interesting...)
- Those who have dislike of Marc Crawford may be comforted to know that he doesn't run his practices like a dictator. His demeanor was professional and he took his turn to go scoop the pucks out of the net while another coach explained the next drill. I suppose we'll have to wait for a game to see the infamous unpleasantness.
- I noticed Fabian Brunnstrom today some while they were on the PP, which I thought was odd. Not odd that I took note of him, but odd that it was the FIRST time I took note of him all camp.
- Ralph Strangis was leading Brent Severyn around after the scrimmage, introducing him to people (people that matter, not me/fans). Evidently his contract was up with the Ducks FSN crew, and we should be seeing him on FS Southwest.
- All weekend I have seen Ralph Strangis interacting with gobs of people, being entertaining and accomodating. Razor, while of course more humurous, prefers to lurk on the periphery. Probably because I was staring. Either way, I can't wait to hear them call a game!