Team Delvecchio got an early start at the rink today, beginning with video coaching shortly after 8AM. The players then went through their pre practice preparations before suiting up and going through more video coaching at 9:25, followed by practice and the (dreaded?)skating test.
Lines and defense pairings have been pretty consistent with the A team in camp, which at least makes my note taking a little easier.
Tomas Tatar - Henrik Zetterberg - Gustav Nyquist
P-A Parenteau - Darren Helm - Frans Nielsen
Anthony Mantha - Dylan Larkin - Justin Abdelkader
Tyler Bertuzzi - Riley Sheahan - Luke Glendening
Danny DeKeyser - Trevor Daley
Xavier Ouellet - Mike Green
Jonathan Ericsson - Nick Jensen
Brian Lashoff - Ryan Sproul
- Kronwall was spotted around the rink early in the morning, but didn’t take to the ice. It’s a little bit frustrating to continually be told he feels great and everything is just fine, but then not see him on the ice at all. If he was truly great, ok, or fine, wouldn’t he be on the ice? Blashill said Kronwall won’t play in the Red & White game tomorrow for sure, and he doesn’t know yet if he’ll skate with the other non game players in the morning. My money is on not seeing Kronwall skate at all in camp. It’s also worth noting that every time Blashill is asked about Kronwall, he emphasizes that their main goal is to have Kronwall ready for game one against Minnesota. I don’t recall him ever even mentioning pre-season games for Kronner.
- Zetterberg and Abdelkader both participated in practice, but not in the skating test.
The players are still having some fun, and watching them have fun allows me to have more fun. Take this defense cuddle puddle for example. Ericsson, Ouellet, and DeKeyser just wanted to give Brian Lashoff some love.
The skating test took place at the end of each group’s on ice practice session and it looked like everyone was completely pooped by the end of it.
I apologize that it looks like my skating test pictures were taken in the shower. The skaters snow showered the glass pretty good on their first lap, so it looked like I was watching through the shower. But, you know, a shower where you’re fully clothed and aren’t washing your hair. You know what, that was a terrible metaphor, forget I even brought it up.
At the beginning they’re all full of energy and spirit
After the first couple laps, “Yeah, we made it, we’re doing pretty good”
Fist glove bump [quotes are mine, not the players’]
By the end, however, nobody even wanted to stand upright.
Tomas Tatar yelled what I think was supposed to be encouraging or motivating things to his teammates to give it their all on the last laps. After they were finished, Jimmy Howard skated around to everyone and gave them glove/blocker bumps.
Xavier Ouellet looked to be in pain after the test and was down on the ice trying to stretch for quite some time, hopefully it was just a cramp from the intense skating. Since the skating test is a test of both speed, conditioning, and endurance, I find it interesting to see who’s leading the pack by the end. The A team was broken up into 2 groups and I had a better view of the red group. That group consisted mostly of Larkin, Mantha, Street, Tatar, Sheahan, Glendening, Ouellet, Green, DeKeyser, and Sproul. There may have been another player or two I’m forgetting. In that group, Larkin, Street, and Green finished the strongest and looked the least like they wanted to collapse and pass out. Ouellet, DeKeyser, and Tatar were the stragglers of the group. Does it mean anything? Probably not much if anything, but it’s an observation I find interesting and fun so I’m sharing it with you.
The rest of my day was mostly spent camping out in the corner waiting for players to come out for their interview, so I missed most of the B and C teams practices and all of their skating tests. I very much wanted to watch the B team to see the youngsters go through the test, but as I have yet to figure out how to be in two different locations simultaneously, I missed out.
I got to talk to Gustav Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader, Anthony Mantha, Mike Green, and Joe Hicketts today. I missed Michael Rasmussen and Jeff Blashill so I’ll link to audio that George Malik got so you can hear those as well.
Mantha isn’t taking for granted that he’s guaranteed a roster spot with the Wings. His attitude is that he still has to earn his coach’s trust and prove he deserves to be on the team. He identified consistency as
“That’s what you need to be a good professional athlete. Looking at Z, looking at Kronner, they’re always 100% in and you look and try to follow them for sure”
“I don’t want to have a slump this year, I want to have the best I could. This year is my contract year also so I need to focus for that. I just want to be a good player in general and help the team out”
Regarding Athanasiou’s ongoing contract negotiations...
“I did [talk with him] a little bit during the summer. I started joking about it earlier in the summer then as the summer went along I could see he was a little more stressed. He wants to find a way to be on this team I think... I hope he comes back here, he’s one of my good buddies on the team and he can help this team out for sure”
Mantha was, of course, asked about Luke Witkowski, since it was a fight with Witkowski last March that left Mantha with a broken finger. Mantha gave the expected answer, that what happens on the ice stays on the ice and there’s no ill will between them. What got more of a reaction from me was how he (and many other people) described Witkowski.
“He’s going to be a good energy guy, he’s gonna have our backs, he’s really strong, so I hope he can help the team this year”
I want to hulk smash anything nearby whenever I repeatedly hear a player described only as an “energy guy”, or a “good in the room” guy, or that he’s strong, etc. When I hear a distinct lack of praise for a player’s skills and on ice abilities to do something more than by tough or get into fights, I get angry that we have such a player. * sigh *
When it comes to interviews, Michael Rasmussen gives short, concise answers that may be limited to something like “Yeah it was good”. Here’s his interview.
Coach Blashill talked about a variety of topics, including putting Larkin, Mantha, and Abdelkader together, Mantha’s growth as a person and a player, his thoughts on Filip Hronek and Joe Hicketts, his philosophy on having smaller defensemen and how many is too many, what he hopes Michael Rasmussen takes away from his first training camp, and the fitness testing and evaluations of the players.
Most of the players going back to juniors and the camp tryouts will likely be sent home either today or tomorrow morning. The Red & White game is scheduled for noon tomorrow, and the players remaining who aren’t in the Red & White game will practice at 10am. Then the Wings will leave Traverse City and get ready for their first preseason game of the year. I can’t believe we’re finally on the cusp of a new hockey season! It feels so good.