That’s Hockeyville, as in Terrace, BC, where a full house (1,000) of eager and boisterous fans (mostly kids), got to see some of their Canuck heroes play a pre-season game against the NY Islanders last night.
There was not a whole lot to write about as far as the game goes since only a few regulars on either team were on the ice. Did I mention that Mitchell and Bieksa were there, but did not suit up? Instead, they did a lot of PR work by signing autographs for all that could find something to pass to them.
Maybe my counting was off, but I did not see the required eight Canuck NHL players on the ice. I saw only Wellwood, O’Brien, Lukowich, Raycroft, Hansen, and Rypien, but maybe Mitchell and Bieksa count as they were in attendance.
The amount of prospects and minor leaguers will probably be the norm for the next three to four games. After that, the “A” team and its lines will begin forming to gain continuity heading into the opening game of the season against the Flames.
Until then, it is what you see. There are players trying to impress, win a spot, dropping the gloves to scrap. They are doing pretty much anything to catch management’s attention.
There were plenty of fights last night, as “The Ripper” Rick Rypien went a couple of rounds, and Petrovicky took on Mark Streit.
Sergei Shirokov continues to improve, and display those quick hands as he scored the only two Canuck goals. The first came off a rebound and the second was very similar. He kicked the puck onto his stick and flipped it over the Isles goalie to score what would be the winning goal. He showcased his sweet hands.
Raycroft looked solid in net, very efficient in his movements, square to shooters, and allowed the only Islander goal. Cory Schneider took over half way through the game and pitched a shutout. He also looked sharp and this looks like a real interesting contest for the backup position
Neither Hansen nor Grabner have yet to impress me. Yes I understand training camp is mostly about drills and controlled scrimmages, but even in those nothing stands out, not like Shirokov has.
By the way, what’s with this long preseason (nine games) besides the money grab? Five games would be more than enough to see who is going to make the club. Rarely are more than a couple of spots up for grabs anyways. The other problem is that it adds to an already long season of 82 games, playoffs and this year the Olympics for some.
It also opens up the door for injuries to key players. I think it’s time for the NHLPA to make it part of the next CBA, in limiting the preseason to five games.
Back to training camp tomorrow. Is this weird or what? One day of training camp and pre-season is underway, than back to training camp until Wednesday. Then it's on to California for games against Anaheim and San Jose.