The buzz around this year's training camp is that
things are a little different this year. The roster is just two
thirds the size of last year's total of eighty, and the consensus is that
camp under Glen Sather is more about work and skills and less about
meaningless scrimmages. That's not to say that the lines didn't
match up today, but it was clear that this was about hard work with the
players working on skating, defense, breakouts and simple repetition that
had many hanging their heads, sucking deep breaths as the whistle went to
end the session.
Eric Lindros sported a new, sleeker look and it
appears that he has already put last year's disappointing season behind
him and is enjoying once again playing with Martin Rucinsky on his wing.
The Rangers #1 center was amongst the hardest skaters today and looked
particularly comfortable feeding the puck to his wingers as he broke into
the offensive zone. Greg de Vries is another who worked hard in
today's camp, outshining his defensive partner Tom Poti by working hard
and carrying the puck on a couple of occasions. There were however
still a handful of Rangers that have yet to break out of their summer
vacation and these included Alexei Kovalev, Tom Poti and Chris Simon, all
of whom looked as if their timing was off and their minds perhaps not
fully focused on playing yet. The good news is that it's early and
there's still plenty of time to get into the groove.
Perhaps most encouraging was the number of young
prospects that were attending camp. As with the Rangers, it appears
that the Hartford lines are already forming, chief amongst them a line
featuring Jed Ortmeyer and Garth Murray flanking the impressive Dominic
Moore. The trio looked strong during the drills and look as though
they might be able to establish some significant chemistry down in
Hartford this season, and perhaps gain themselves some time in the NHL.
Another youngster who impressed some of the other fans around the arena
was Juris Stals, a tall, smooth skating Latvian winger who paired with Ken
Gernander and Mike Wirll in the morning practices. Stals does need
some work on his stick handling, but might be worth a shot in Hartford.
There were a number of unknown faces and try-outs at
camp too, and perhaps the best amongst them was Sloboda, a two way
defenseman who looked poised and perhaps ready to play in the AHL.
The highly touted Fedor Tjutin, by contrast, appeared uncomfortable in the
drills and needs some work if he is expected to make his NHL debut this
year as some have suggested, including GM and coach Glen Sather.
Overall the sessions were moderately positive with
the afternoon session perhaps providing a little more jump and hitting
than the earlier morning sessions. The Rangers will do well to keep
up the momentum and Sather the work ethic, if they hope to break out of
their six season slump.
For more on Day 2 of training camp, check out the
session summaries for 1 & 2