What to Look For on Day One

There should be a good crowd at the K-Plex (TM Corey Masisak & Paul Rovnak, all rights reserved) for Friday’s opening day of the Capitals’ 2007 training camp. Here is one thing you should know and another thing you should look for as camp progresses.

First, here’s a disclaimer for those of you who have spent the summer strategically planning the Capitals’ line combinations. What you see tomorrow is meaningless, so save your message board rants for another topic:

“It’ll take away a lot of fun for the armchair quarterbacks and the second-guessers the first three days of training camp,” says bench boss Glen Hanlon. “We’ve tried to make the teams even. Whatever you see in lines, we have other things going on. These aren’t the lines that you think you are going to see starting the regular season. That kind of ruins it for a lot of people to second-guess everybody. We’ll put some players together that we want to evaluate. We are looking for certain things going into camp. We play a game [in] three days into camp. We have two practices. After we return from Carolina, we’ll sit down and evaluate on a few things. But in the back of our minds, we have some projections on who will play with whom, and that’s been taken care of. But you won’t see it [on] Day One [of camp].”

Hanlon and his staff have already set the 20-man travel roster for Sunday’s preseason opener in Carolina. Those players will have two days of practices to prepare to take on the Hurricanes.

Although there are 61 players listed on Washington’s camp roster, two players (right wing Eric Fehr and defenseman Dean Arsene) are injured and won’t be on the ice on Friday. The rest of the players will be divided into three groups. The players will hit the ice first at 10:30 and both rinks will be used to accommodate the three groups of players.

A lot of the media stories will be focused on the new players Washington signed over the summer, but you’re better off focusing on changes in the way the Capitals play the game. The addition of the new players enables Washington to play a different style, and if it works out it should be quite exciting.

“A good team to look at is San Jose,” says Hanlon. “They had a very young defense. But they really controlled [the puck]. [Joe] Thornton and a lot of their players and their defense were great at keeping pucks in. In charting games, they played a lot more of their game in the offensive zone than they did in the defensive zone. We’re anticipating controlling the puck a lot more and controlling the play.

“With saying that, Anaheim had some terrific defensemen. But at the end of the day, they had a terrific checking line. They had good goaltending, they had a great checking line in [Travis] Moen and [Sami] Pahlsson and [Rob] Niedermayer and they had a real physical presence to their game. I’m not going to throw everything out; we’ve got some physical players here. We’ve got a tough team. If you take a look at our roster, we’ve got a tough team. And that’s going to create some space in itself. We’re not going to be a team that’s just going to be one-dimensional. We’re looking to keep all of the same things that we’ve done well here, and we have done some things well and the people who are returning have done well.”

A rugged puck possession team. Works for me.

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