Leafs Practice Notes – March 17
I attended practice at the MasterCard Center for Hockey Excellence, watching a loose group of players reveling in the 4-1 win over their provincial arch rivals. It all began with a loose skate, just a warm-up involving firing some pucks off the boards along the way.
After a few laps the players convened in the middle, while coach Ron Wilson shot pucks playfully into the crowd. Â There were happy faces, smiles and light hearted spirit when beginning a full length of the ice scrimmage for 10 minutes with two pucks, and little contact. Keith Acton and Luca Caputi play wrestled along the boards while the winger also took a two-hander from Wilson. The head coach then proceeded to put his stick through Christian Hansonâ€™s legs as the 6-4 rookie skated away. Lifeâ€™s good after a win. Even the drills, although technically sound, werenâ€™t as tight as perhaps after an ugly win.
Caputi in particular showed some good edgework skating along the boards. Not so much speed as small quick movements, an underrated skill considering all work along the boards down low. He also looked sculpted under it all. Phil Kessel took a half-slapper into the crowd in front of the goal to the jeers, and a few elbows. Even Tomas Kaberle was vocal and enthusiastic.
After Tyler Bozak led the stretching in the middle, drills began shortly after.
The squads were split and the pucks sat at each corner of the blueline. The drill had a defenseman stationary in the middle of a blue line receiving a pass from someone coming off a corner blueline, and passing it back for shot on net. The next variation makes two passes to the stationary defensemen before shot on goal. A second winger was added and the pass went to the blueline and off to the other winger going on a two on nothing for a shot on goal. They make two variations to the simple drill; one with the pass going to the original winger from the defenseman close, and one where the pass was made closer to the opposition. The next drill activated the defenseman to make it a two-on-one drill. All that ended with a skate around for a couple of laps.
A breakout drill began from the top of the face-off circle in a quick transition with all five skaters going the other way. The last part of the practice had the goaltenderâ€™s on one end to having drills on their specific game well cutout was used on the other and to on various exercises of to bring the puck from in close, and passes originating from below the hash marks to the point and back, with a player taking a shot on goal through the cut out.
I took particular interest in watching Carl Gunnarson today. When the drills were done, he was practicing accepting passes with Rob Zettler. The main theme was accepting a pass while taking the blade back so slightly as to catch the puck, not leave the stick rigid and let it bounce off the blade. Zettler had him do this stationary and then in small motions with his skates simulating movement. Heâ€™s come a long way fairly quickly, and deserves some special mention.
- 15 comments
- Collapse All
rustynail wrote: jonas640 Sjostrom in tonight. Looks like Primeau is out. 2 minutes ago via web Well, it was probably between Primeau and Lundmark. Interesting decision.I think they know what Primeau brings and want an opportunity to look more closely at Lundmark. No surprise to me at all.
jonas640 Sjostrom in tonight. Looks like Primeau is out. 2 minutes ago via webWell, it was probably between Primeau and Lundmark. Interesting decision.
Here is an interesting article on Hodgson: http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/juniorhockey/article/781564–battalion-s-hodgson-takes-pains-to-playoffs
When it comes to our centre position I like what I see for the immediate future and down the road. Kadri could grow into a legit number one, and at this point I don’t think we really know what Bozak is. Bozak definitely has shown promise. Bozak seems to be a complete player who is strong on the dot and decent in his own end. Another thing that has stood out recently with Bozak is his ability to make plays in tight spaces- this will only get better with more confidence. Grabovski has been outstanding and should be a big part of this team moving forward. That top three is not bad. We also have Chris Didomenico and Joel Champagne developing nicely in the system. Champagne is likely a year or two away but if he continues to develop brings tremendous size 6’4″ 214lbs at 19 yrs old. Champagne has one of the best face off percentages in all the CHL. Didomenico has been outstanding in his first 12 games back from his very serious leg injury. In 12 games he is plus 18, with 22 points. Dido may need a year in the AHL to develop. At this time it is hard to say where he projects on the Leafs but sufficient time can be given to him to develop. So then in review I would say our centre position looking forward looks like Kadri, Bozak, Grabovski, Didomenico, and Champagne. Seems like a gritty bunch with some decent skills.
Tyler Bozak #1 center? If he is our #1 center of the future then you can add 43 more years of cup drought. He is a 2nd line center on a good team. PERIOD. Quit overrating our players. That’s how the “sense of entitlement” begins.
And to lukethenuke, who wondered if we’d even be able to get a good prospect for Kaberle because of his play of late, umm, hello, he is still a leader in points by defensemen, and has racked up a considerable career of consistency – no one is going to judge him based on a string of questionable games long after the importance of the season has passed, surrounded by the youngest team in the league. Kaberle’s value to a Cup contending team >>>>>>>> Kaberle’s value to the Leafs
To respond to one of the previous posts, I would still take a chance on Hodgson, especially since it probably wouldn’t take as much to get him as it might have before. I wouldn’t touch Lecavalier with a 10-foot pole. Terrible contract, declining play, and we might as well take next season to confirm if we’ve already got our #1 C in Bozak.