Pack up, it's time to go home.
The Fort Worth component of training camp is over and it's back to Frisco for the team, but three days of workouts and scrimmages have given the coaching staff important information on how to start constructing their lineup.
Saturday's scrimmage featured two NHL caliber lines, often squaring off head to head. For the green squad it was Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Erik Cole. On the white, Cody Eakin, Ray Whitney and Valeri Nichushkin (not Chiasson, as Ruff proposed yesterday.)
On paper it looks like a clear audition for Cody Eakin where the second line is concerned following an impressive showing from him at the Friday session. Benn and company dominated possession in copious head to head time.
One way to take that is that Benn and Seguin are puck possession monsters together. Another way to take it is wondering if Eakin, Whitney and Nichushkin can handle things defensively in the NHL. Nichushkin, in particular, seemed a little lost at times when the other team had the puck.
When he had the puck on his stick, however, it was as-advertised. His third period rocket from between the circles over Nilstorp's shoulder was something to behold. Graham just happened to catch it on video here:
He knows what to do when he has the puck. When he doesn't... Only time will tell, but the indication was that if Ruff liked what he saw today these lines could be showcased at the American Airlines Center Sunday night.
On the other hand, this was the third game in three days for many of these players. The 18 minute periods and 10-15 minute intermissions made it as game-like as possible today. Fatigue could be a bit of a factor tomorrow afternoon in Dallas.
To keep it all in perspective, however, Jamie Oleksiak scored on a penalty shot. That happened. Perhaps the rest of it will have as much relevance as that does to the eventual NHL action.
Tyler Seguin on playing with Benn:
- Antoine Roussel - It's just a meaningless scrimmage among teammates but he just sticks out, perhaps as much as Seguin and Benn, though for different reasons, he just sticks out. He's always around the play. He's using his body and getting involved. It's at least slightly Steve Ott like.
- Roussel, Francis Wathier, Luke Gazdic, and Vernon Fiddler. Those boys were not afraid to throw the body around. The scrimmage took on a surprisingly physical tone early. They were definitely getting after it.
- About 60 seconds in Jamie Benn caused a turnover, hit a post with a shot, and seconds later Tyler Seguin scored on a rebound. Seguin was careful afterward to say that chemistry takes time, but they appeared to have it today, and Erik Cole looked like a good fit next to them. It was hard work and skill.
- Benn carried the puck. Seguin carried the puck. It's a versatile look.
- Brett Ritchie scored, but it was the work and pass from Fiddler that made it happen. Ryan Garbutt broke in and beat Kari Lehtonen off the post on a partial breakaway. Seguin hit a post (or it may have been Jack Campbell's head, we weren't sure) in the third period.
- Scott Glennie was there. I saw him. It looks like it might be a long road, though, if he wants an NHL spot, even after a summer of intense work. He looks focused and maybe more professional than ever, but Ruff has a lot of options for the lower lines. He's a right handed shot, though...
- Jyrki Jokipakka stood out to me. Big, big guy. Could potentially be a great addition in Cedar Park this season for the Texas Stars.
- System-wise it was hard to really evaluate the game plan. To the naked eye it was unclear if the defense was pinching and initiating offense any more than usual. There were few odd-man chances and much of the first and second periods were bogged down in neutral zone. Evaluating from higher up in the press box will be easier at the AAC tomorrow night.