It Is Almost Time

 Today I finally managed to make it out to Our Dallas Stars’ training camp . It was only the third day , but I hated to miss the first two due to the fact that I am not independently wealthy (stupid work) .

 As soon as I walked into the practice rink , I realized just how much I had missed hockey . The smell of the rink and the feeling I have when I am there just cannot be explained , simply experienced .

 I arrived a little later to the practice than I had intended (thanks to nasty traffic and rain) , but that was all right . The goalies (all six) had already taken the ice and were being tested by players in Texas Tornado uniforms . Mostly they were just taking shots at the goalies in specific patterns dictated by the shooting coaches . Very few pucks passed the goalies and made it into their respective nets .

 When the practice started , it was difficult to manage to watch ALL the players and gauge their performances due to the fact that the players were split into two groups on two different practice arenas . One group was on their regular practice rink and the other group was on the beautifully revamped Deja Blue Arena (and wow does it look nice) . I spent a little time in both rinks but still I do not feel that I have a good enough handle on the skills of all the different players to make any kind of a judgement on who will make the team or not .

 I will say that the players in both rinks were running at top speed . All the drills were run quickly and nobody was standing around simply watching . That is a huge change from last season when that jerk that wore 16 stood around during practice ninety percent of the time .

 The players were dressed in either black or white to show which teams they would play on in the scrimmage game .
  The black team consisted of ; Karlis Skrastins , Nicklas Grossman , Phillip Larsen , Matt Stephenson , Raymond Sawada , Matt Niskanen , Colton Sceviour , Brenden Morrow , Warren Peters , Garrett Stafford , Ivan Vishnevskiy , Mike Modano , Fabian Brunnstrom , Mike Ribeiro , Jamie Benn , Francis Wathier , Michael Neal (that’s right James’ younger brother) , Brian Sutherby , Stephane Robidas , Alex Auld , Brent Krahn , and Richard Bachman . I am sure I have missed a few of the players who played on the black team but I tried to note them all . The rest of the (tentative) roster had on white jerseys except for Jere Lehtinen who did not practice due to an unspecified injury .

 The scrimmage consisted of two twenty-five minute periods in which the clock did not stop except during the final minutes of both periods . The goalies changed with the rush when the coach decided it was time .

 The first period was pretty even except for near the end the white team scored (I was at the far end of the rink and could not see who actually scored the goal) . The goalie was pulled at that point to see if the could knot things up before the period ended , but Loui Eriksson hit the empty net with less than two seconds left in the period .

 The second period made the guys in black look like they were standing around . The white team absolutely dominated the puck . They ended up scoring three more times ending the second period and the scrimmage with a score of five to nothing . 

 One of the things that surprised me the most about the scrimmage was that it was so one-sided . The other was the fact that when Luke Gadzic took a hard check into the bench from Francis Wathier that he took exception to , they both tossed off their gloves and went a round with each other . I would not have thought that a fight would have occured  in training camp . I also would have thought that our new coach would have broken it up , but he simply allowed it . Nobody was severely injured in the fight but it was not for lack of trying .

 Hard checking was consistant throughout the practice and the scrimmage . Of course nobody went “goalie bowling” or took shots on Modano or Richards . The hits that were some of the hardest (or atleast shook the boards the most were the ones from players like Ott put on other veteran players like Robidas . When the prospects put on good hits , they still seemed to pale by comparison .

 I was impressed with our new coach . He certainly talks much louder than Tippett ever did . What impressed me most about Coach Crawford was that he came out of the locker room and greeted and shook hands with EVERYBODY who was waiting for players autographs . And , yes , he does like Texas so far . He took his time talking with fans and was very personable . The complete opposite of Tippett (don’t read anything into that – there is no underlying message – that is simply an observation).

 Although I was not impressed with one half of the team being stomped , I was impressed with the way all of our players were using their sticks to defend and cause problems for their opponents better than we saw all last season . This is an encouraging thing .

 I would also like to note that neither Alex Auld or Marty Turco were scored on . 

 On a more personal note , the Hawaiian theme for my living room is finished . At least until my wife can find even more tacky and loud things to add to it .

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~ by Adam on September 15, 2009.

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