This year’s lone scrimmage was fast paced, a little chippy at times, and featured a lot of back and forth action. It was difficult to get a good read on individual players since shifts were short and the action was nonstop. Evan Fiala and Filip Hronek got into a shoving match on the ice, that carried over the yelling and chirping back to their respective benches. To be honest, I think Fiala did most of the vocalizing... he was pissed.
All play was 4 on 4 and team Zetterberg (white) won the game 3-1.
White: David Pope (Jack Adams, Alex Peters) scored against Matej Machovsky
White: Dominik Shine (David Pope) scored against Matej Machovsky
Red: Tomas Dvorak (Sean Josling) scored against Filip Larsson
White: Oliver Castleman unassisted empty net goal
The roster and teams can be found here.
There was a 5 man shootout in between 25 minute halves, and then another at the end of the game. Since it was a scrimmage, rather than do a recap I’m going to instead focus in on what I saw from a few specific players. If you want to watch some of the scrimmage action, the Red Wings live streamed it on their Facebook page, here’s the link.
One of the things that’s stuck out all camp long, is how tall the players are. Usually there are a few tall kids, and they kind of stick out. This year there are only 7 players under 6 foot, 15 are 6’3” or taller, and that’s out of 45 guys! It’s usually easier to pick out the “tall” guy, but even Rasmussen, Setkov, and Petruzzelli at 6’6” aren’t easy to pick out of the group.
Yesterday I wrote an entire article on the Wings newest goalie, so if you’d like an introduction to his style, please read on over here.
I was excited to see Petruzzelli in game action and he didn’t disappoint. He stopped everything the red team threw at him, including the shootout attempts.
Here’s Dennis Cholowski’s shootout attempt against Petruzzelli
Filip Hronek’s shootout attempt against Petruzzelli
And Givani Smith’s shootout attempt against Petruzzelli
Once again I was really impressed by Petruzzelli’s calm confidence. There was never any outward sign he felt pressure, and he was so relaxed and focused on the ice that shooters had no indication of what he was about to do. He gave the shooters nothing, and then reacted so quickly and perfectly to what the shooters did, that he made it look easy. There were also a couple times where the puck was on one side of the net so he was on that side to make a save, then the puck quickly moved through players to the other side of the net and Petruzzelli slid laterally so quickly and smoothly that the shooter on the other side of the net had nothing but the goalie to shoot at. It all happened so quickly, but Petruzzelli had no trouble moving in a controlled manner and sealing off the net. The more I see of him, the more excited I am that the Wings picked him.
The happy Finn is easily one of my favorite players to watch and cheer for. In a world where so much importance is put upon being a big defenseman, Saarijarvi isn’t likely to be much bigger than his current 5’10” 172 pounds; and that’s just fine. VIli has the patience and talent for finding or waiting for open lanes to the net. He may double pump to get just a few more seconds, or drag the puck laterally just enough to find the open lane to the net. It’s not easy to get pucks through to the net from the blue line, especially with how big players are now and how much emphasis is put on blocking shots. Vili has a vision for the net, and his offensive gift is a big part of what makes him so valuable. He’s also slippery, several times today he somehow managed to get away with the puck as one or two opposing players tried to stop him. Maybe he showers in olive oil before the game, or maybe he uses his smaller size to be harder to catch. Either way, he does a good job of getting past the opposition. He also does a good job of finding open spots on the ice so he can be effective. Sure, big players try to take advantage of him, but he’s usually good at staying out of punishing situations, and if bigger players want to shadow him to make him ineffective, then his teammates have more room. As the only defender in camp under 6 feet, Saarijarvi wasn’t any less effective than the big guys. He knows his strengths and weaknesses, and puts himself in situation to use his strengths. And that’s what good coaches will do in the future, use him in ways that play to his strengths. I don’t believe size will hold Saarijarvi back.
Ehn is stronger and more confident than ever before. I noticed right away that he’s stronger on the puck and more comfortable and competent at winning puck battles. He’s primarily used as a defensive center in Frolunda, seeing a lot of penalty killing time. The defensive side of his game is obvious, and I can tell he’s more used to defending than going for offense. He is however putting more focus on the offensive side of his game as he returns to Frolunda for one more season. He looked good in the scrimmage and I can see a lot of improvement from last year. He knows he needs to increase his offense some, while also acknowledging that the way he’ll make it into the NHL is by being a defensive center who kills penalties and wins faceoffs. Ehn is one of the few returning players in camp and I can definitely see a lot of improvement. And that’s what this camp is all about!
Peters is a camp invite I was happy to see on the roster. He played for the Flint Firebirds, so I got to see him a bit while Saarijarvi was there. He was drafted 75th overall in 2014 by the Dallas Stars, but after a couple of injury laden season in the OHL, the Stars decided to move on. He was eligible again in the 2016 draft but wasn’t taken. He’s currently slated to play for Saint Mary’s University this fall, but if the Wings or Griffins offer him a contract, I think he’d change his plans. At 6’4” 220 pounds Peters has the side many teams covet in defensemen. He has average speed, but moves laterally very well and has good balance. He has a physical edge and uses his side effectively. He also seems to have good instincts to know when to be “safe” defensively, and when he can jump up and play more offensively. He doesn’t have high offensive potential, but I don’t think that’s a must from all defensemen. I think he could be a more defensive defenseman at the AHL level, with potential yet for the NHL. He has great poise on the ice and always seems calm and controlled. When I watch him, I see a calm veteran, not a 21 year old fresh out of the OHL. Peters isn’t flashy by any means, but he seems to be a solid all around player who has size and smarts. I like him, and could see the Griffins offering him a contract to see what he could do in a (hopefully) full season, not limited by injury.
Shine was an invite to development camp back in 2013, went on to play 4 years at Northern Michigan University, played 8 games with the Griffins last year on an amateur tryout, and has a Griffins contract for the upcoming season. In those 8 Griffins games last season, he had 3 assists. While he may not be an NHL prospect, or high up on the depth chart, he’s certainly making a good impression. Shine seemed to be everywhere today and had several great scoring chances in addition to his goal. He’s not a superstar kind of player, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention him, because he was a standout player today. I think he’ll be a great addition to the Griffins full time.
Givani Smith is a jerk on the ice, and I’m not sure he can be any other way. Even in the scrimmage he was pushing his luck, trying to trip his opposing wingers on the faceoff, holding people’s sticks, and generally being a “Richard” (just think about that one for a moment). Generally speaking, he’s kind of all over the place on the ice, and the only times I really noticed him is when he was being a jerk to his camp mates.
Joren van Pottelberghe
I noticed right away that JVP looks much more confident this year than last. He’s more steady, has better rebound control, and a lot less... leaky. In the past he’s had a tendency to let pucks somehow get through him, so far he looks much improved in that area.
It’s my goal to post a few more video clips of players as I’m able to get them edited and uploaded. I’ll upload them to my Youtube channel and/or tweet them out, so keep a lookout for those in the coming days as well.