Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rookie Camp Day 5: Rookie Game

 celebrating the 4-3 win (photo by me)

The rookies took the ice for the last day of their week of camp, and they hit the ice wearing brand-spanking-new Capitals sweaters.  Not the red practice jerseys of development camp, but actual home Capitals jerseys.  They certainly looked the part as they faced the rookies of the Philadelphia Flyers, and many of them lived up to the tremendous hype.

The same guys we've been talking about all week were the ones who impressed in the 4-3 win over the Flyers.  2010 third-round draft pick Stanislav Galiev opened up the scoring in the first period, with assists from Dustin Stevenson and Marcus Johansson.  

Mike Testwuide answered midway through the second period, going high glove side on Philipp Grubauer.  A few minutes later, Brandon Anderson relieved Grubauer in net so the two could get some equal work.

A major presence on the power play unit was defenseman Josh Godfrey.  Setting up on the point, Godfrey unleashed his tremendous slapshot, beating the Flyers goalie not once, but twice, on two separate power plays in the second and third periods.  We hadn't seen much of Godfrey's offensive prowess before, but Coaches French and Boudreau say that his shot is why he was drafted.  French adds that his hard shot is "probably NHL-level now" but "his five-on-five play has got to be better."

After Godfrey's goals, the Flyers came back, with Eric Wellwood and Marc-Andre Bourdon scoring on Anderson, and leveling the scoring 3-3 with less than five minutes to go in the third period.

With less than two minutes remaining, Cody Eakin led a breakaway into the offensive zone, swept around the back of the net, and potted the game winner unassisted.

But in the locker room after the game, Eakin was the picture of modesty.
"It was a perfectly executed controlled breakout.  The goalie didn’t play it, so I just kind of wrapped around to the back end and it squeaked through."
Despite the goal being recorded as unassisted, Eakin credited his teammates for the setup.
"It was kind of lucky, but it was a good chip by Mitch [Garrett Mitchell]. It was a good breakout, and it led to a good opportunity."
Coach French gave a little bit more credit to Eakin.
"Cody scoring the winning goal there, he’s the type of guy we saw last year in the Calder Cup  that relishes those big-time opportunities.  When you need him he seems to come through; I thought he was excellent in the second and third period."
Eakin's looking forward to showing his chops in the upcoming preseason games.  He knows it's "a long shot" but says,
"I’m here, I want to prove that I can play here."
Marcus Johansson didn't score any goals, but assisted on two goals and was a critical member of the power play.  Coach Boudreau also pointed out that he was "strong on faceoffs and on the puck" and was "the most consistent player we had all night."  But Johansson said that he learned a lot from playing a game as opposed to just practice:
"Well of course you learn more in games, that’s what you’re practicing for.  I try to play my game as much as I can to learn about time and to be at the right point at the right time."
On possibly making the roster, Johansson added:
"I'm going to work hard for it."

Other notes and observations:
  • Samuel Carrier was solid on the blue line, but needs to work on his passing play.  On some passes he had trouble hitting the tape of his teammate.
  • Bruce Boudreau's honorable mentions after the lengthy discussion of Eakin and Johansson (and Godfrey) were: Philipp Grubauer, Dustin Stevenson, Brett Flemming, and Patrick Cullity.
  • When asked about Joe Finley, Mark French did express doubts on his playing at the AHL level next year.  He said that Finley needs to "play at a higher pace" in order to make it in the AHL.
  • At several points, Flyers rookies were trying to get under the skin of Marcus Johansson - chirping at him after whistles, playing him a little more physical.  Johansson never engaged, and always shrugged it off.  In post-game interview, he proved himself extremely smart and mature.
  • Alex Ovechkin stuck around for the rookie game after the vet skate in the morning, and came into the locker room after the game ended to congratulate the guys and chat with them for a few moments. The captain was all smiles, and according to Jared DeMichiel's Twitter, Ovechkin and Mike Green took the rookies out for a sushi dinner.

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