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Thursday's Scrimmage

A couple of quick thoughts:

After a relatively quiet performance Wednesday, Nicklas Backstrom looked more comfortable. Though he didn't factor into the white team's only goal, the 19-year-old showed off some of the skill we've heard about. The highlight came when he weaved his way through virtually the entire blue team late in the second session. It was a stunning display of agility and puck-handling ability.

Backstrom took his final few shifts on the wing. Not sure what was up with that.

The other player who caught my eye was 6-7 defenseman Joe Finley, a rising junior at North Dakota. He was solid yesterday, but he really looked good today. His footwork has improved dramatically from last year, and he's learned to use his size. Did I mention that he's a legitimate 6-7? Which translates to about 6-10 on skates? Or that he weighs 233-pounds?

Finley's highlight came when he crushed camp invitee Paul Crowder along the sideboards. It was easily the hardest/loudest check through the first two days of camp.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  July 12, 2007; 6:17 PM ET
 
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Next: Notes From Friday's Scrimmage

Comments

thats chara size almost

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Finley and Lepisto was a good pairing -- they played well together.

Posted by: jess | July 12, 2007 7:51 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree those two did stand out to me as well.

I thought Alzner wasnt bad, not great but not bad.

Thought it was more physical today then yesterday, but a lot more cheap shots (I think cause they realized the ref wasn't calling anything).

For those who are on the fence about going, I highly recommend it. Its a ton of fun, and I tell you what if you have kids they'd love it. You get so close to the rink... Is it hockey season?

Posted by: Go Skins Go | July 12, 2007 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Totally agree with Jess, too.
I thought the frequent pairing of Alzner and Hedman looked pretty good, too.

Posted by: bugs | July 12, 2007 10:13 PM | Report abuse

I haven't seen a mention of Pokulok anywhere.. is he playing? Is he even healthy?

I hate to keep harping on this, but you have to wonder if Pokulok's concussion problem had an impact on the decision to draft Alzner; who, by the way, seems like a great kid.

Oneal

Posted by: Oneal | July 13, 2007 1:16 AM | Report abuse

I've heard Pokulok participated in the morning drills, but I haven't heard anything about whether he played in the scrimmage or not.

Some reports from camp I've seen are saying good things about some of our unsigned players (Finley, Perreault, Bouchard, and a few of the camp invitees, for the most part). That has me wondering, however: Many of these people are almost certain to return to where they came from (College, etc.) We don't, apparently, have any roster spots for any of these unsigned players who stand out. What do we do if, for example, we come to the conclusion that Perreault and Bouchard are doing so well we can't NOT sign them right now? Or if we need to sign a camp invitee who we have no protection on? Do we have to cut someone before we can sign someone else, or can we sign them and then decide who to cut later?

Also, I hear a lot of encouraging news about some players, but the only person I've heard of who seems (in most fan's views) to be doing poorly is Stephen Werner. Are there any others who look out of place at this camp?

Oh, last thing -- Mrazek is apparently playing well, from what I've heard. I'd written him off as a lost cause who was likely behind Varlamov, Neuvirth, Machesney, and the new Draft Pick (Dunn) out of our prospects. Can we do anything with him if he actually turns out to be good enough to sign, or are we probably going to let him go even if he still has a chance of developing into a professional-quality goaltender?

Posted by: I like Laich and Fehr is Fair | July 13, 2007 2:50 AM | Report abuse

Ruth threw a pretty good hit yesterday as well (see end of clip) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHWqAkfGNyE

Posted by: Andy | July 13, 2007 6:34 AM | Report abuse

Got to agree with Tarik. Backstrom looked a whole lot more comfortable out there yesterday and was a bit more aggressive when it came to going after pucks along the boards and being a general nuisance to the Blue team's defenders.

Posted by: HolyOlie | July 13, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Pokulok has not participated in the scrimmages.

Posted by: Tarik | July 13, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

That's good to hear about Finley Tarik. I certainly hope he's improved because he looked kind of overmatched when I watched UND in the NCAA tourney this past season. He's still a relative baby though and it probably takes a little longer to become fully accustomed to that huge frame. But wouldn't that be something if he develops into a player on par with Chara!!

Posted by: E | July 13, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Gotta say that I went down there expecting to see the 4th Best player in the world outside the NHL.... and instead saw someone mostly invisible and a little small that has a ways to go.

No doubt in time he'll be the one, but I'm more than a little concerned about our second line center. The skill was there in little flashes.. and he did some good things defensively, but Nicky was pretty much invisible out there from this point of view.

Posted by: DidWeWatchtheSameThing? | July 13, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Man, if Finley and Green and Morrison and Alzner and Pokoluk and Shultz (barring injury) and the like work out to be above average NHLers, GMGM is going to be hailed as a genius. That's a LOT of nhl defensmen. Just think about the trade implications! Once a solid back line is in place, imagine Semin and Ovechkin, Nylander and the rest... Things are looking up!

I can't believe we have to wait until October...

Posted by: 007 | July 13, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Apologies for asking a Kettler logistics question, but do you think there will be available seats for the Saturday afternoon scrimmage? On GoSkinsGo advice, I hoping to bring my kids. Thanks.

Posted by: LookingForScottStevens | July 13, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

LookingForScottStevens - They've been fairly well attended so far. There's bleacher seating along one side of the rink, one end is open to standing room (which is where I watch: right up against the glass), and there's viewing room on the second floor on one end with some bistro sets for seating.

If you get there a little early (4:00 to 4:15) I think you'll be just fine, but again, I have no idea what the attendance will be like on the Saturday as compared to the weekdays.

Posted by: HolyOlie | July 13, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

HolyOlie,
Many thanks for your kind and prompt reply. Go Caps!

Posted by: LookingForScottStevens | July 13, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

where do you get 4th best player in the world not in the nhl from? i was under the impression he was viewed as the best player not in the league.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, you are much better looking in person than in your picture. Smokin' Al's got nothing on you.

Posted by: Ashes | July 13, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

One thing you guys are not factoring into your comments on Backstrom in the scrimmage. He skated in BOTH morning sessions, the only player to do so. It wasn't a Sunday morning stroll. It was a very, very intense skate.

Posted by: Tarik | July 13, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Most of us don't show up for the morning sessions... that's pretty intense.

Posted by: HolyOlie | July 13, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Backstrom's play in the scrimmages is the least of my worries. He's spent the past couple years playing with grown men in the Swedish Elite League, so I'm sure this isn't too challenging for him.

Training camp will be much more meaningful. I think that's when we'll find out who he'll play with, and if he can handle the responsibility of centering one of the top two lines in his rookie season. I don't believe we're going to find that out this week.

I think it's more important that he gets used to living in/near DC, speaking English, and working with the Caps coaches.

Oneal

Posted by: Oneal | July 13, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Totally off this thread, TSN is reporting Lawrence Nicholat signed a multi-year deal with Ottawa. Good for him! http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=213459&hubname=nhl

Posted by: Fred | July 13, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Giroux is heading to Atlanta.
BTW anyone know what Souray signed for in Edmonton?

Posted by: tallbear | July 13, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Why would they have him be the only one to participate in both drill sessions?

Posted by: On Ice | July 13, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm not really worried about Backstrom. I get the very strong impression he's fully confident in his abilities and he's just working on various parts of his game. Unlike guys like Perrault and Bouchard, he knows he's making the team this fall so he's less concerned with making an impression and more about adjusting to the North American game. Let's not forget, he's been playing with elite men for a couple of years. This is a bit of a step down for him.

Posted by: B.orr4 | July 13, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

From most opinions out there

1) Erik Johnson
2) Jack Johnson
3) Jonathan Toews
4) Nicklas Backstrom

I can understand the excitement, and I'm drinking the kool-aid as well. However, playing with peers that are FAR less acclaimed (read skilled) than him, I was fully expecting to see "the future". I know its a lame summer warmup for him, but I was expecting an "Ovechkin" type performance (I know.. I know.. not the same guys) as far as him being heads above the competition.

All I'm saying is that we should not be expecting anything dynamic from him for a little while (#1 center he is DEFINATELY not for this year, even #2 might be asking a bit much at this stage).

I just expected a bit more, thats all.

Posted by: DidWeWatchtheSameThing? | July 13, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I get the impression reading these reports that Backstrom is your stereotypical "soft" Euro player. I remember that the big surprise around Ovie was that he played an NHL-style game. Ovie's hard hitting was always mentioned as being atypical.

Posted by: tallbear | July 13, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Souray reportedly signed for five years and $27 Big Ones.

Posted by: Old Bob | July 13, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

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