Maple Leafs Camp: Day Two On Ice


Day Two of on-ice participation is now in the books .. the sessions all had a purpose, as camp not only winds down, but clear decisions need to be made on who will remain with the main roster and who will be going to the Marlies or back to their original junior team.

A breakdown of the drills and more observations from the intra squad game after the jump.

Sunday Training Camp Day 2 practice

Teams A and B practiced with Team A on the main ice. (Breakdown of teams is here.

The drills weren’t very different from the previous days, they all focused on a real-game situation and the coaching staff made variations along the way.

The players hit the ice with a leisurely skate to warm up when Ron Wilson blew the whistle and gave everyone instructions on the drills .. goalies were working on the one end with Francois Allaire while the rest of the squad got instructions from Wilson. Drills are below.

Defensemen at the blueline waiting for a pass

— DRILL: started with a puck being sent into the corner and retrieved by a defenseman that skated to behind the net and stopped dead, reversed the puck and passed it out to a forward to begin the breakout from the defensive zone.
— A variation to the above drill had the first defenseman retrieve the puck and pass it to his partner off a bank of the end boards to reverse the play.
— stretches were done at center ice after this drill
— DRILL: this was used in Day One as well .. defensman was at the blueline and takes a pass from a winger (who had to skate to the red line) and then passed it back and goes in for a shot on goal .. a variation had the winger make the first pass to the defenseman, skate through the neutral zone ice to the other side and accept a pass back from the defenseman .. another variation: a second winger was added .. first winger makes the pass to the defenseman and he passed it to the second winger who in turn passed it back to the first winger and both went in on a two-on-nothing .. another variation: the first pass to the defenseman from the winger as he curled through center ice and the defenseman found the second winger before they went in for a shot on goal

Coaches inside the blueline simulating forechecking turnovers

— DRILL: with the squad just inside the blueline, and two coaches were set up just inside the other team’s blueline .. this drill was similar to the forechecking drill from Day One, with the variation of the coaches being behind the goal line in Day One and just inside the zone today .. the drill still simulates forechecking pressure to create a turnover .. a puck was sent to the coaches, just out of reach of the streaking winger, and one coach sent it across the ice to the other coach, while the opposite winger diverged and confronted him with forechecking pressure, to cough up the puck .. the center’s job was to retreive the turnover and start the attack .. a variation then saw a third coach (Doug Gilmour actually as a guest coach) shadowing the center .. the simulation yesterday forced a turnover inside the zone, while this simulation had to force the forward unit to create the turnover and then make sure they were on side for the play to the net .. sometimes the coach threw the puck in the middle to Gilmour, to break up the monotany of the drill
— DRILL: focused on a 2-on-1 situation .. the puck started in the corner with a pass to a defenseman in the middle of the blueline who took a quick shot on goal with a two-man forward unit providing a screen and an opportunity to practice tips from the point .. a second puck is given to the winger and they rush it back for a simulated two-on-one with a trailing defenseman
— DRILL: puck starts inside the blueline with a defenseman curling and sending a pass out to a breaking line unit .. the simulation here is a quick transition on a play that doesn’t start deep in the zone, but requires the players to move back towards their own zone
— DRILL: In one zone a puck starts with a coach sending into the half boards on a five-man unit checking another five-man unit on offense .. simulates offensive zone pressure and an element of the cycle

Coach's directions for drills

— DRILL: puck is sent into the corner from center and the squad breaks out as a five-man unit versus a solitary defensive pairing .. at a whistle, the offensive defensemen part of the five-man unit skate back into their zone and retrieve a puck while the forward unit empties out of the offensive zone and curls in center ice to simulate the transition game from the previous drill .. the forwards go back in for a scoring opportunity

NOTE** Team C practiced at 12:30 .. the drills were the same, with the one big difference .. Captain Dion Phaneuf was on the ice .. not surprisingly, the captain was very local, repeated the drills and offered his opinion and commentary on coaching instructions .. he yelled for tempo and worked pretty hard setting a great example

Intra Squad Game Team Armstrong vs Team Kennedy

The following notes are from the intra squad game today. I recognize that some found my observations to be too negative from Day One.

So be it.

There are a lot of positives that I have clearly outlined in the Maple Leafs Annual as well as in the McKeen’s Hockey Pool Yearbook. I don’t want to duplicate that here as it’s a lot of work, and readily available. These observations are just that, what I saw that either broke away from the scouting descriptions, or simply needed to be pointed out. I won’t sugar coat anything, I call it as I see it.

We’re off.

Christian Hanson has added some length to his stride .. he forechecked well and was one of the most physical forwards in bother games, finishing his checks, but not overly punishing his own teammates .. Armstrong started as a center and moved back to the wing .. unpredictable at times with what he’s going to do with the puck, a plus and a minus as it often fooled his teammates as well .. exhibited a deceptive change of pace and streakiness .. experiment with gaining position in close quarters with the covering man, while trying to create some space for the puck, and fight off the man, retrieve the puck and make the play .. did a lot of that, sometimes it worked, but is an interesting addition to his repertoire (note** I thought Armstrong struggled in Atlanta last season and reverted to an ugly, lazy game, today he didn’t show that side) .. also thought he did a great job finishing his checks, not with bone crunching hits, but enough to move the man from his position and not give away any space .. Matt Lashoff felt a little rigid throughout the game .. puck protection skills are above average, but he consistently overhandled the puck, drawing a forechecker to him, but often lost it along the boards or it was taken away from him .. a more consistent effort to get the puck moving is needed from this former first round pick (skating is good, but a little clunky, with good first two-step acceleration, but lacking top speed) .. does a good job maintaining his awareness of surroundings, not just watching the puck in his own zone .. passes must be crisper, especially on breakout plays

Mike Komisarek laid the lumber to absolutely anyone in front of him in a blue sweater .. Kris Versteeg could have been the most impressive player today (along with Clarke MacArthur, who was great) .. #32 Versteeg (who was a good talker with the media throng after the game) showed great poise, smarts and positional awareness .. he was sneaky chasing players to steal the puck from them from behind, and put on bursts of energy in defensive efforts .. his feet seem to jut out a little too much when he’s digging in the ice to gain acceleration, but is a comforable skater with a wide stride and straight back , giving him vision and stickhandling range .. Nazem Kadri had a mixed showing, similar to the rookie tournament, trying to do way too much on his own, overhandling the puck, skating himself into dead ends and trying to deke out players from his own zone that led to multiple turnovers .. he has to learn to incorporate his teammates better, and in this regard .. this solidifies how he should be a Toronto Marlies forward for the rest of the season .. give him an ‘A’ for some offensive creativity, but he’s not a superstar and has to get to that next level by learning to be more dynamic with his linemates.

Luke Schenn was a beast, two punishing checks, no pucks, no question of going for the man .. also seemed to excessively pinch from the point, and could be more selective about that .. Kenny Ryan was not just invisible out there, but he wasn’t moving his feet, getting to plays a half second too late and not allowing himself to be involved in the play by lagging in his skating thrust .. needs a better effort to be a professional hockey player .. Jesse Blacker made some intelligent pinches and asserted himself into the play all game long .. Kaberle and Komisarek made a very complimentary pairing together .. Carl Gunnarson has some more zip in his shot and isn’t afraid to use it .. Brayden Irwin put on a good display of hockey smarts, but still has skating issues that will hold him back .. Clarke MacArthur put on a good stickhandling display and demonstrated a good hard shot.

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