Hooray! All of a sudden it's hockey time! And while I normally don't do gameday posts for preseason games, I'll break that lazy rule today, because I just found out I've got Row B seats for tonight's preseason opener. Woo hoo! So you suckers can listen on the internet radio or something for a guy who sounds like he's wearing a green shirt. :)
As for lineups, the Ducks have announced that Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, and Lubomir Visnovsky will be playing tonight. Beyond that, shrug! A mix of kids and strangers, some wearing the Ducks uniform for the first time. Should be exciting!
Way more exciting than practice, at least. I did attend yesterday's training camp / scrimmage with Jen from AC, and my main takeaway was that it was pretty damn boring. The scrimmage was better watching than the practice, but even that was pretty so-so. Still, it was good to see some players back -- everything looked fine that I saw from Hiller, Selanne, and Lubo. I don't like making strong conclusions based on one boring day of camp, but here's a few notes, at least:
- Just like in real life, Jason Blake outhustles everybody in practice -- it may be where he excels the most. If he were a young prospect, I'd be very excited about his work ethic.
- I may have coined a nickname for Rickard Rakell. It's not based on anything I saw, but "Roadkill" seems to roll off the tongue nicely.
- I guess I didn't really quite know what Andrew Cogliano's face looks like. To constantly prove that to myself, I mistook Nicholas Deschamps for Cogliano like four times. Cogliano wasn't even in that group I watched practice. :)
- Mark Bell was quicker than I thought he'd be. Which isn't astoundingly fast or anything, but he can skate pretty well. Some intrigue there.
- I still kind of refuse to believe there is a person with the last name Cramarossa -- that sounds way made up. But he was way better than I'd be if I made up a fake name to get into a training camp.
- I don't know why, but I came away liking Nate Guenin. Well, I sort of know why -- he made some capable defensive plays in the scrimmage and his hair looks kind of cool when he's skating. He could make for an unspectacular fill-in during the season, perhaps; Ducks need some of those. And best of all -- when you first see him, your first angry gut reaction turns out to be false; he's not Bill Guerin.
- The only thing I marked on my roster sheet all morning was a "+" next to Sean Zimmerman's name. I kind of forget why -- later in the scrimmage he worked his way down to a minus but ended the day kind of even. I think I'm way more lenient on guys I've never heard of, though.
- Matt Smaby wears #25. He's not really big enough to be a fake-Pronger, but he's not the worst choice. I came away decently impressed, though, and he could be another unspectacular defenseman fill-in option for the Ducks.
- I didn't get to see Emerson Etem and Andrew Gordon's group practice, but they both starred in the scrimmage. Gordon is small but smart about it; Etem has a lot of "jam" or whatever it's called. The biggest event of the scrimmage happened when Etem threw a sort of awkward mid-ice hit on Sheldon Brookbank. Ten seconds later, Etem had the puck and Brookbank threw an angry two-hand slash at the rookie as he skated by. It would have been a penalty shot (the scrimmage had no power plays), but Etem scored before that could happen.
- Devante Smith-Pelly impressed me less than Etem, though I don't know if he's hurt or something -- Jen noted he didn't play towards the end of the scrimmage. I can see why I should be excited for DSP down the road, but at least yesterday I did see a couple of mental mistakes -- bad pass choices and stuff. That's fine -- he's still a kid, but based on my small sample he's a little less ready.
- Top-to-bottom, I'm excited about the goaltenders. All of them. Jonas Hiller, the Swissman gone mad. Dan Ellis, the rich man gone mad. Jeff Deslauriers, the ex-Oiler wild card. Igor Bobkov, the madman turned goalie. Iiro Tarkki, the Finnish guy. John Gibson, 18-year-old Captain America. It's a full house of international insanity, but there's some serious talent and potential there.
Anyways, ready for the Five For Howling logo re-design? I'll warn you now -- it's not terribly flattering.
But hey, on the plus side, my Gary Bettman turned out decent enough that I didn't have to label him "Commissioner" or anything. :)
Awwww. Good luck with all of that, Yotes Fans.
Prediction: Ducks 4, Coyotes 2. Goals by Not-Bill-Guerin, Roadkill, Commissioner Gordon, and Teemu.