Day two of training camp is in the books. By now you've probably heard the words "pace" and "compete" associated with camp in various outlets around the Internet. I can say that those words are more than an accurate depiction of Lindy Ruff's camp so far. The Dallas Stars practiced at near game-pace in their scrimmage again today. What is really great about these scrimmages instead of just doing drills is that you can see individual's play in a pseudo-game setting. It makes for easier comparisons against different guys of varying developmental levels.
Here's a few observations from today's session:
Ryan Button, the defensive prospect the Stars received from the Boston Bruins as part of the Rich Peverley - Tyler Seguin - Loui Eriksson seven player deal was fairly impressive to me today. He had a few really good plays where he kept his composure under pressure from opposing players and was still able to make a play with the puck. He also had a couple of good offensive shifts and has a decent release on his shot.
Another defensive prospect that stood out was Kevin Connauton. He was aggressive in joining the rush, helped break out of the zone to activate the offense, and didn't disregard his defensive responsibilities. He is about where many have projected him to be development wise.
The singularly most aggressive player today was Cody Eakin. He was aggressive in his puck pursuit, and he more often than not was rewarded for that tenacity by his line having possession the majority of their shift. He was the forward that I noticed the most today.
Jamie Benn showed flashes of his dominant play on the wing in several plays today. He forced a turnover in neutral ice by Maxime Fortunus and had a break out into the offensive zone. When he got into the zone, he deked left then right and put the puck fivehole. It was very reminiscent of many goals he's scored in a similar way when he was playing wing a few seasons ago.
I tried really hard to watch for others on the ice today, but every time Seguin and Benn were on the ice your eyes are just drawn to them. Those are two very speedy players the Stars have. And both are capable of absolutely taking over the offense at times in the game.
Valeri Nichushkin continued to get banged into along the boards today. He seems to have adjusted a bit from yesterday, and didn't look as out of place as he did in yesterday's session. He scored a very pretty goal from the slot off of a Tyler Seguin setup. He still looked a little tentative at times on the ice, but that's not wholly unexpected given that he's just 18 and still adjusting to North American ice.
Sergei Gonchar is going to bring some interesting depth to this defense that hasn't necessarily been there in the past. He has very good instinct on when to join the rush and when to hang back. You can tell he has a defense-first kind of mentality but he isn't hesitant to push the play up ice either. He makes very quick decisions when he has the puck.
On a funny note, I saved a poor person from having a jersey foul today. An Antoine Roussel jersey had been made for a customer, and I noticed that there was an extra "L" in the name. (It will be fixed before it's given to the customer -- that's some good looking out there.) When you're out tomorrow at the scrimmage, and you order a jersey with customization, make sure you double-check your spelling! I was pretty impressed that I was able to purchase a victory green jersey today and get the customized jersey back by tomorrow's scrimmage. Very nice of the Stars staff to be able to get that done in such a short turnaround.
The big intra-squad scrimmage is tomorrow morning at 10 AM CST. Parking is about $10 in the garages around the Fort Worth Convention Center, and the scrimmage is free and open to the public. Plenty of the front office staff will be around tomorrow, and Jeff K is announcing the game in the arena tomorrow. There will be some ticket giveaways for the preseason games coming up, so be sure to be there!
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