After watching a few hours of hockey on a Saturday morning in mid-September, it’s easy to predict that the Blackhawks will win the Stanley Cup in June of 2012.
Of course it is.
But what did we see during the training camp festival? Here are a few thoughts.
Jonathan Toews was in mid-season form, and appeared to be a man playing with boys. He beat Ray Emery for a breakaway goal during the first scrimmage. If his play during a scrimmage this morning is any indication, Toews is ready for a big-time season.
Patrick Kane did not participate in the scrimmage, but his wrist appeared to be as good as he claims it feels.
Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy all appeared to have fresh legs despite Friday’s fitness testing. Leddy appeared to be stronger on the ice as well.
Michael Frolik looked very good, and was physical as well. He handled the puck in traffic effectively and led the rush a few times.
Corey Crawford made a number of outstanding saves.
Among the draft picks and prospects in attendance, a number looked especially good. Brandon Saad was very good, holding his own physically against NHL players and handling the puck well in traffic. Philip Danault and Brandon Pirri also looked good at forward, while Shawn Lalonde, Joe Lavin and Ryan Stanton all looked good on the back end.
Sami Lepisto wasn’t impressive at all. If Saturday’s action determined the depth chart for the season opener, Lepisto would be your sixth or seventh defenseman.
Of all the players that skated in any capacity on Saturday, the guy that appeared to be the furthest from being an NHL player was John Scott. He was the slowest skater on the ice, including Troy Murray and Joel Quenneville. The puck eluded him on a number of occasions, and he had a few bad turnovers as well. I don’t know how he’s on the NHL roster in October.
Rostislav Olesz looked lost on a number of plays, and was caught flat-footed as the puck passed him a few times as well. He isn’t going to see top-nine minutes the way he played on Saturday. The game was being played at one speed, and he was skating at another, slower pace.
Among the prospects in attendance, there were two that were noticeably invisible.
Marcus Kruger, who is a favorite of the organization and many fans (including me), didn’t make a big impact.
The more unfortunate ghost in the action was Kyle Beach. His team played in both scrimmages, providing him with plenty of opportunity to impact the game and stand out. He didn’t.
Unfortunately, Jeremy Morin skated on the side only on Saturday. He missed a big part of last season with concussion symptoms, and the team is calling his availability day-to-day right now with continued issues.