it was easily the most interesting practice i've ever attended. quite enlightening and educational when it comes to what we might see in game 1. [i did actually consider that this post would be giving info to the enemy but a) who the hell from chicago reads this blog, and b) i bet there were 'hawks scouts there anyways....]
there were a whole heckuva lot of dudes out there; it looked more like training camp:
some key points to consider from the hour-long skate:
1. walking wounded
regehr, sarich, & (not surprisingly) gio were all absent, but the rest of the flames' roster + all the troops recalled from the QC were present. i was pretty much ecstatic to see glenX going hard; having not skated in previous drills or game#82, i was a little concerned about his status. he and bourque both looked up to speed and game ready this morning, though bourque might have seemed a little on the slower side.... i wouldn't suggest injured, so that could be a conditionning issue (or he's just taking it a bit easy). warrener does not appear to have progressed any further than the practice i attended six-or-so weeks ago, and i would place him as a huge longshot to start game 1. not that i would imagine he'll progress to NHL-ready ever again....
2.lines and pairings
obviously we're talking about a keenan-helmed squad, and we're examining a practice two full days before puckdrop. also, i'm clearly i'm not one to pull out a pad of paper and take notes, so take this all with a grain of salt:
vandy-eriksson (this one is especially gag inducing when you consider that,
for the next two games, chicago will have last change. in a text
to kent i suggested they were gonna get murdered. he responded
"Total slaughter. Emphasis on the laughter' part.")
i should have paid much closer attention to the plethora of pluggers but i did notice rhettro playing on a line with roy (and brett jr, i believe), which makes perfect sense if those guys aren't ever gonna see actual gametime for the rest of the year. i wish i could recall where boyd ended up, but the mathematics of this team would place him on a line with lundmark and nystrom (though i certainly don't recollect actually seeing it). that would leave peters, dvdg, and greentree for the majority of the drills, which seems about right.
i've only ever been to two flames' practices outside of training camp/prospect camp, so to see a powerplay drill in one of them makes me wonder if the "flames don't practice the powerplay" myth is just that. taking the yellow "PK jerseys" were pelech, negrin, sutter jr, and dvdg. below is a shot of the first unit: from the top clockwise around the perimeter is iggy, jokinen, cammalleri, dion, aucoin (on the blueline).
here, bertuzzi falls to the second unit with lundmark, langkow, leopold and (it hurts me) eriksson. rene bourque and glenX were down at the other end taking shots on Qmac, so who knows if this was an experiment or an actual consideration.... it's still nice to not see bert on the first unit, but i won't sugarcoat the truth: the yellow-shirted babies got the puck out across the blueline more often than the red-and-whites got the puck in the net... not a good sign.
dion pretty much levelled squid on one drill --not phaneuf's fault, entirely (cammo should keep his head up; he just skated directly into #3 who had both feet firmly planted). he also accidentally toppled lundmark who was waiting for his turn and also not paying attention. dion came off of his turn and ran right into him... glenX and pardy stuck around after practice for a little point-shot + tip-in action:
(that's playfair holding a mini-meeting with the newbies in the background).
other notables were:
- the most beautiful goal by pardy (perfectly picking the top corner)
- nystrom popping the waterbottle
- pelech's size
- rhettro's hair
- dvdg making iggy howl about who-knows-what
uhhhh.... that's pretty much all i have to say about today's event, other than there was a very seriously strange crowd watching. one dude in a truly pimpin' gold-ish plaid suit (like cherry styles but far more subdued) with a jimmy-canaryshirt blue button-up. there was another chick with hella piercings and tatts, a very curious family, an english guy with a broken arm (in a flames-red cast !), and a well dressed man taking notes in a ledger. i was sad not to see my gio, and also noticeably absent was jamie mclennan; even with the organizations top three goaltenders present.....
[links to the photos in enormous form, for your perusing/stalking pleasure here, here, and here. also, as a bonus you can check out a big ol' photo of the team doing their cool-down stretches here.]