It just seems that way. ;-)
Went to Bruins camp Friday (along with a few hundred other fans. The crowd was even bigger on Saturday; they were actually turning people away at the door. Unreal.)
Of course the big attraction is Seguin, no disputing that. But even discounting Tyler, it isn’t a bad way to spend a couple of hours if you’re jonesing for hockey.
Hey look, it's Tyler Seguin! (with Jordan Caron behind him.)
The day started at 10 a.m. (the on-ice day, anyway; it started for ME at 7:30, when I hopped in my car. It’s further to Wilmington, where the Bruins’ practice facility is located, than it is to Boston. The things I do for you guys haha.)
Anyway, the kids skated out on the ice to applause and, after a brief stretch, went right into skating and passing drills. Down the boards, cutting into the middle; then breakdouts down the center, taking center ice feeds from defensemen. Some nice moves and shots here and there, occasionally draws oohs and aahs from the crowd.
There were close to 30 skaters in camp. This year, helpfully, they provided names as well as numbers (there were rosters provided at the door) on the kids’ backs, but it’s still difficult at times to distinguish individuals in the drills, as they’re switching in and out and back and forth and going all over the place.
I did experience a Goldilocks moment at one point by observing defensemen Tommy Cross (big), Steve Kampfer (little) and Matt Bartkowski (middle) in a tete-a-tete by the side boards. But my real fangirl/squee moment came from watching top draft choices Seguin (2010), Jordan Caron (2009) and Joe Colborne (2008) in a brief but intense discussion (complete with Gallic gesticulations from Caron) before an offensive drill.
What made watching those three fun was recognizing their unmistakeable yet incredibly diverse talents. Colborne moves extremely well for a big man (showing little of the coltish awkwardness I saw last year) and loves to shoot from the slot, Caron has a wide body that he uses to good effect around the net, and Seguin — well, let’s just say the hype isn’t far off. He is an absolute treat to watch. And not just barrelling aorund on offense; I think my favorite moment came during the late scrimmage when he skated back on defense, picked up his man, and rode him away from the net. I didn’t see Claude Julien there, but I’m quite certain that’s the sort of play that would give him the warm fuzzies.
There were many Bruins fans who were upset when Boston used its #32 pick on Jared Knight, but Bruins fans are going to love this kid. He’s crazy. At one point during the scrimmage (playing on a line with Caron and Seguin — squee!) he flew down the wing, crashed into the defenseman, knocked the net off its pins and went down in a heap along the boards. Much consternation amongst the crowd and his teammates as he skated slowly to the bench and sat for a couple of shifts, but then he came back out on the ice and scored the prettiest goal of the day, using a defenseman as a screen and snapping off a beauty. More ooohs.
All in all, the kids looked happy as clams to be out on the ice after all their dryland (and pool) training. They were having fun, even though they were working hard.
A few more scattered thoughts:
Russian defenseman Yuri Alexandrov (his second time around) is undeniably talented, and has grown and improved since last year, but he is not ready for the NHL. He needs to spend a year or two in the AHL and learn the North American game. Bruins fans need to temper their expectations on this kid and let him develop out of the spotlight.
Cross, hampered by knee injuries for a couple of years, is finally healthy and looks like a force out there. Reminds me a bit of Mark Stuart.
Alex Fallstrom (a Swede who’s attending Havard; how common is that?) had the session’s funniest moment when he grabbed a puck that had popped up in the air off the goalie, threw it into the net and celebrated.
Max Sauve (who recently had surgery to take the pins out of a reconstructed ankle) was on the ice for the late stages of practice and stayed out (as the guys left in twos and threes) to take shots on goalie Michael Hutchinson. Colborne stayed with him, and they practiced shots/tip ins. Colborne’s wrist shot reminds me a little of David Krejci’s in that it always seems to catch you by surprise.
The final image left me smiling: Colborne ducking to pass through the locker room door. ;-)
(Photo: Bruins development camp by Goddess Savvy. Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.)