Day two opened with group B attacking the ice first. Lots of simulated game play. Rushes and drills almost the whole session.
Peverley, Hamill, Knight shined brightest among the forwards in the first session. Sauve and Caron were definitely noticeable with good body position on the powerplay/penalty kill drills.
Cheers at the beginning and breaks during sessions were warm. As group b did ended closing stretch
with Rich Peverley leading, the crowds cheering was as loud as you may hear during games in other markets.
Group a had a much crisper feel today. Colby Cohen looked good on defense, Kyle MacKinnon continued making himself known at forward. Alexander Khokhlachev showed a lot with hands, wheels and puck tracking. Nathan Horton appears 100% and is moving well. Jamie Arniel was a late cut last season and the first forward called up last season and looks like that’s not an acceptable turnout this year.
One time Jennings Trophy winner, reigning Conn-Smyth winner and two time Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas got by far the biggest pop from the crowd when he walked on to the ice. The buzz lasted until he’d made his first lap. He moved well but like the other goalies isn’t in mid-season form yet.
The special teams drills in the second session were much more physical than the first session. Some of those dishing out the hot sauce were a surprising. Jamie Arniel and Tyler Seguin handed out some hits and shoves in addition to the warm welcome Thornton, Campbell and Paille greeting specialize in.
Colby Cohen and Andy Ference were paired for all the drills and looked good. Cohen moves a lot better than some of the 200lb defensemen I’ve seen. It was notable that when Ference was working the penalty kill he was directing traffic for his unit even over the forwards who might spend a bit more time on the PK during the regular season.
One of the nice things about the practice was the huge number of fans there. At a guess it peaked at over 3000 fans. Quite a few of them clustered around the tunnel, and players stopped to autograph for several minutes. After shedding his gear from the early session the final piece of the Phil Kessel trade Dougie Hamilton returned to the tunnel mouth to sign autographs. he was there signing for at least twenty or thirty minutes.
It was a good show overall. In a similar manner to development camp there were players who stood out in a good way, but not more than one or two who didn’t look like they could compete for an NHL job either now or in the future. I do have a few favorites to make the team that I’ll share later in the week at forward where two or three players have elevated above the others. The defensemen have been a tighter knot and are a bit complicate by who was called up at some point last year and how they performed. The goalie situation I suspect will remain unchanged from last year.