Day One in the BooksPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
For Caps faithful and for the Washington coaching staff, Sunday’s rookie camp opening was the first day of a season they hope will eventually stretch to nine months in length and culminate with a win in the team’s final game. “Guys like us, coaches and that, we live for this,” declared Boudreau at day’s end. “I was very excited to come here today and very excited to get on the ice. You seem more in your own element when you’re doing this. I am happy it has started again.” Judging from the significant number of onlookers on a dreary September day that also happened to be the first Sunday of the NFL campaign, there are quite a few folks who fall into the “and that” category to which Boudreau referred. The summer wasn’t as short as Boudreau and the Caps would have liked, but it was long enough and most of us area ready for the blank canvas and promise of another new and unfolding season. Washington’s 2010 training camp is the third under Boudreau’s watch. Everyone in the building knows the first day of a Boudreau camp is going to be the toughest, and today was no exception. The kids were on the ice for the better part of two hours, minus a few minutes break for a resurfacing of the sheet. “It’s great to be out here,” he said. “I thought they did pretty good. The first day, you want to see what they did all summer and that’s why it was a little longer than normal. But you’ve got to have some sort of barometer, because we’re not with them all the time. I think most of them came in pretty good shape, because I think it was a fairly tough practice.” A Wing And a Player? Center Anton Gustafsson was the Caps’ first choice (21st overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. After spending most of the last two seasons playing in his native Sweden, the 20-year-old Gustafsson is set to start his first North American pro season in 2010-11. It came as a bit of a surprise to see Gustafsson skating the left side on Sunday. “He had requested to try wing,” said Boudreau in response to a query from Bears beat writer Tim Leone. “And we wanted to try [2010 draftee Stanislav] Galiev at center, so it made for an easy switch.” Shortly after the conclusion of the 2010 draft earlier this summer, the Caps noted that they’d try both Galiev, a third-rounder, and first-rounder Evgeny Kuznetsov at the pivot position. Center Of Attention Cody Eakin’s shock of red hair will grab your attention, but his game and his manner on the ice are what have drawn the most attention to the Winnipeg-born teenager, a third-rounder (85th overall) from the 2009 draft. Boudreau said he didn’t want to single out any players for praise after Sunday’s opening session, but he later mentioned both Eakin and Dmitry Kugryshev without prompting. Boudreau said he was anxious to get a look at Eakin in some NHL preseason action. Eakin played several games in the Calder Cup final last spring and played beyond his years. “He’s the one junior I think that has come here saying, ‘Forget it, I want to play in the NHL this year,’” said Boudreau of Eakin. “He had a great junior year and we’re going to give him a chance to see what he’s got. I like him.” Need A Fourth? Goaltender Braden Holtby, a fourth-round choice (93rd overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, is not among the three goaltenders listed on Washington’s rookie camp roster. But that didn’t stop the second-year pro from full on participation in Sunday’s camp opener. “It’s hard this week to get a lot of work if you’re a goaltender because we’ve got [Simeon Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth] and [Dany] Sabourin,” noted Boudreau. “When they have their scrimmages by themselves, that’s four goalies and nobody gets enough work. “Braden offered and said, ‘Can I come out and practice with us?’ And I said, ‘Sure.’ So he’s been out here. I asked him if he got enough work and he said, ‘Yes.’ He’s just a kid who wants to get better. We were out here a half an hour early because of the four goalies and we did more shots [on goal] than we would normally do in practice.” Prior Commitment The personable Dave Prior, who spent more than a decade as the team’s goaltending coach, was in attendance on Sunday and is back in the organization some 13 months after yielding his post to Arturs Irbe. Prior, who served under four different head coaches and who holds the distinction of serving the longest continuous term as a coach in Capitals franchise history, will serve as amateur scout/goalie development coach for Washington.
There were 200 defensemen who played 40 or more games in the NHL last season. Only 67 of those blueliners played more than half their team’s games for the team that drafted them. And only 38 of the 200 averaged 20 or more minutes per night while skating for the team that drafted them. Only Mike