Blue by Four

Club Blue evened up the score in this week’s set of four scrimmages from Capitals summer development camp today. The Blue boys rolled to a 5-1 win on Thursday, a day after Team White took the opener by a 5-3 count. As I mentioned yesterday, it’s tough to account for all the goals and the scoring, but here’s what one observer witnessed.

Michal Neuvirth started in goal for Blue today and authored 20 minutes worth of spotless netminding again. He really makes it look easy when he is between the pipes. He is calm and doesn’t expend much in the way of unnecessary motion.

The Blue team did not allow many scoring chances on the afternoon, and was particularly stingy when Karl Alzner was on the ice. Alzner sometimes played the left side, and sometimes played the right side. He looked equally at home on both sides. He’s very aware of what’s going on all over the ice, and continued his steady, smart and quiet play in the Day 2 scrimmage. Alzner’s usual partner was Oscar Hedman, but he also played some with Sean Collins. Collins is the Ohio St. product who played a bit with Hershey at the tail end of 2006-07. He looks ready for his first full foray into the pros in 2007-08.

You can also put defenseman Sami Lepisto in the “polished and ready to turn pro” column. Very smooth at both ends of the ice, and nearly nailed one but it rang off the iron instead.

The Blue line of Andrew Joudrey, Andrew Gordon and Maxime Lacroix was the most consistently effective unit on the ice today. That trio worked well along the walls and in the corners, and has generated a decent number of scoring chances in each of the first two contests. Joudrey has excellent defensive presence and awareness and he can move very quickly as well. A good read in the defensive zone turned from intercepted pass to transistion to breakout in no time.

At one point during the first half, I leaned over to the estimable John Keeley of On Frozen Blog and remarked how I was itching to see 2007 draftee Josh Godfrey really lean into one of his patented slapshots. I had barely finished uttering the words when Godfrey wound up and launched a drive from the right point. He air-mailed it, but yeah. Gas.

Later Godfrey cranked one up from center point and White’s Daren Machesney did a good job of peering through traffic to snare the missile in his catching glove. And in the “Isn’t Irony Ironic?” department, Godfrey authored the day’s prettiest goal, but it had nothing to do with his nearly triple-digit howitzer. He took the puck into the offensive zone, going wide before abruptly cutting back to the middle, braking in the slot and flipping a wrist shot over Machesney’s catching glove. Godfrey’s goal produced more “ooooohs” from the assembled patrons at the ’Plex than any of the other 13 goals in the two scrimmages to date.

Seconds after Godfrey’s goal, Jamie Hunt made a nice play to curl behind the net and feed Pasi Salonen for Team White’s lone goal of the day.

Luke Lynes scored the first goal of the day, beating Justin Mrazek with a one-timer from mid-circle on the right wall. Lynes displayed his good hands again later in the day when he deftly deflected a waist-high point shot straight down and through Machesney’s pads. The disc bled through the goaltender’s pads without enough oomph to get to the back of the net. Nothing Machesney could do about that one. A local kid (Ellicott City, Md.), Lynes had a small cheering section on Day One, and his posse was outfitted in Brampton Battalion sweaters with their hero’s name on the back.

Goaltender Dan Dunn had a couple adventures playing the puck, but he recovered well and was not burned.

As everyone knows, Babe Ruth was known as “The Sultan of Swat.” Defenseman Theo Ruth also displays a healthy appetite for hitting. He doesn’t go out of his way to do so, and has a good knack for lining guys up along the wall and expertly hip-checking them out of the play.

We knew Joe Finley was a big, physical guy with a bit of a mean streak. On Wednesday, we learned he was capable of dishing a pretty good first pass. On Thursday, we saw that he was capable of firing a hard and accurate point shot.

Simeon Varlamov was once again impressive in dealing with traffic, but this time it was onrushing traffic. At least twice he was barreled over by an onrushing forward and managed to stop both puck and skater with no harm to anyone involved.

Nicklas Backstrom was very good at moving the puck, moving with the puck and protecting the puck. He also made a very nice cross-ice pass to Western Michigan’s Jeff Lovecchio, that resulted in the latter taking the disc in full stride and breaking in more or less alone as he cut toward the net from the right wing wall. Varlamov made the save.

Nice to see John Walton leading a gang from Hershey that included Doug Yingst and Bob Woods down for their first visit to the ’Plex. At least a handful (if not more) of this week’s camp participants are likely to see action in Chocolatetown at some point this season.

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3 Comments on “Blue by Four”

  1. Andy Says:

    Agreed on all points Mike. I really liked Ruth’s play, and caught a clip of his best hit: (at the end of the clip).

    Godfrey’s end to end rush goal was pretty, and his slapper is as hard as hyped.

    Do you think the Caps will consider signing any of the walk on players (e.g. Lerg)?

  2. Wondering Says:

    Who is that Beagle kid? He is a real scrappy player.
    And Kronick? He caught my eye a lot, he is a big kid.
    Lepisto seemed to be the most animated and relaxed out there.

  3. Vlad Says:

    Thanks a lot for the update – much appreciated..

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