Today I was on hand for the opening of training camp at the Boston Garden. The lobby held about 200 people at each the east and west entrance around nine, by about nine thirty five when the doors opened the number was closer to five hundred each side.
Among the most amusing occurrences was the repeated hush that came over the Garden when Claude Julien spoke. I’m not saying everyone stopped speaking but the volume level dropped to about 1/5th the average excited murmur. This happened each time he spoke in both the A and B groups.
Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand were paired together on several rushes and drills in the second session. This struck me as an interesting paring that makes me wonder how likely we are to see the five players left from last years top two lines left in the same mix. One of the things that struck me about lines one and two last year was the lack of speed on one and the lack of size on the other. Nathan Horton was hands down the fastest skater on his line and he’s probably not going to be invited to the speed competition at the All Star game. Patrice Bergeron who probably only tips the scale at 200lbs when holding Lord Stanley’s Cup over his head was the largest player by several pounds on his line last year.
Zach Hamill had a solid day. He may have scored on one or two of the rushes, but I wasn’t tracking that quite as much as I would later in the year. What I did notice is he was one of the first forwards to deliver a hit along the boards in a drill. Moments later someone else returned the favor and he showed good strength on his skates staying upright and not shying away.
Tyler Seguin is visibly larger even from the stands. He looks to have filled out across the chest and shoulders. He did not appear to have lost a step in his skating. And yes, the puck bunnies and Tylerphiles were out in full force.
Ryan Spooner continued the trend he showed in this years dev-camp of not shying away from going at the larger (nearly everyone) players. At one point he attempted to skate through Zdeno Chara, physics intervened. On other rushes he had some dazzle.
David Krejci’s skating was some of the best I’ve seen from him. It will be interesting to see how he does entering the season healthy for the first time in recent years. Last year he started off with a bad wrist. Going back a bit further was an entire season hobbled by a hip injury.
Overall the two sessions had a different flavor. The early session seemed more a “welcome to camp, try not go pull a groin” skate session with a couple drills. The later session had a few more drills and seemed to have more of the forwards who are either jostling for their position on the roster or fighting for an NHL job. Both were interesting, but for those going in with a small kids or new fans group B might prove more interesting of the trend continues.
Alexander Khokhlachev’s skating improved a bit from dev-camp and he may have managed to pack on a few pounds along with crossing over into adulthood about a week ago. I suspect at least half of the improved skating is freshness and not a junior season that ran almost directly into the development camp where
divine sadist skating instructor Besa Tsintsadze ran him and others into the ice.
While I can’t think of anyone who looked bad there was one standout who looked to have come to camp with more oomph than many. Rich Peverley who was acquired at the deadline last spring and morphed into something of a binkie for Julien was hands down the sharpest looking player on the ice at either session. At one point or another in drills he sponsored equipment sales replete with items formerly belonging to Joe Corvo, Adam Mcquaid, Tuukka Rask and Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara. While practice, particularly the first of the year is just that, you can’t fail to notice he clearly set his mind on being a big part of the team this season. As one of the ten Bruins contracts set to expire on July 1 it is no wonder he wants to make an even better impression this season than he did across his time in Boston last year.