i skipped the group A morning session today, but attended the groub B skate from the comfort of the club seats. with my tummy full of free popcorn and hotdogs, i observed the following interesting items:
1. cammalleri - backlund - bourque
although rene bourque is listed as a left winger, he was playing the right side on a line with backlund and cammalleri, where the newly acquired #13 tried out the left. backlund spent the entirety of practice at centre. cammalleri has a mean slapshot that seems to consistantly end up just below the crossbar, and backlund is not afraid to get dirty in the corners... the only reason i think backs will return to sweden this year is purely because of numbers (we have far too many bodies). i think, skill-wise, he could probably make the final cuts...
2. prust - primeau - nystrom
an interesting combination that seemed to work fairly well, for the most part. i'm excited to see more of prust but i think nystrom's days might be numbered.... i would be perfectly content to see this threesome as the flames' fourth line, but i don't know what that would mean for bubble guys like moss, boyd & roy (etc).
3. moss - lombardi - boyd
i realize it's early days but i wouldn't be at all surprised to see this line stick. if cammalleri's gonna play left, however, i would actually like to see him sub in for ol' mossy, here.
4. sarich - regehr
even though aucoin and vandermeer were paired with rookies (pardy and pelech respectively), sarich and regehr were joined at the hip. i would be surprised to see this duo split up... reggie seemed to be having the most fun of everyone on the ice today; he and kipper had a pretty good laugh at one point, and he was smiling like crazy whilst chatting with cammo during the post-practice stretching....
5. baby flames
if it wasn't for kris chucko, i think aki seitsonen would have the dreamcrusher award in the bag... sure he's big, but he's also pretty much useles... john armstrong, on the other hand, is a few years behind, developmentally, but appears to possess a significantly higher ceiling. seems like the coaches saw it too, as he was playing today with greentree & germyn, while seitsonen was banished to the "kid's table" with pete vandermeer & dan ryder.
i can come up with all sorts of excuses detailing WHY, but the fact of the matter is that matt keetley looked a whole lot sharper than kipper today. yes, keets has been back on the ice for over a week. sure, kiprusoff probably takes it a bit easy in practice while keetley still has something to prove. i've been saying it for years and i'll say it again: matt keetley is GOOD. watchout mcelhinney... the fanattic probably hasn't started stitching #1 jerseys just yet.... ;) keets looked to pull something in a mid-practice drill, but stretched it out and never left the ice... hopefully all is well.
that's about it. i'll probably drop in a bit more through the week to see more of negrin, chucko & how bertuzzi's fitting in... i'll keep you posted.
my current prediction:
bertuzzi - langkow - iginla
cammalleri - lombardi - boyd
glenX - conroy - bourque (played RW today)
prust - primeau - nystrom
[moss / roy ]
regehr - sarich
phaneuf - vandermeer
giordano - aucoin
[warrener / eriksson] (*ugh)