Claude Giroux finally came alive, scoring a pretty breakaway goal and looking more like the player everyone expected in Thursday’s prospect scrimmage. Forward Steve Downie did not take part in drills or the scrimmage for unknown reasons and after a very good start from Mario Kempe, the speedy forward had to be walked off the ice and into the locker room due to an injury.
Taking Downie’s place on James vanRiemsdyk and Jonathon Matsumoto’s line during drills was Kempe. The team, led by Craig Berube, practiced 3-on-0’s and full length 3-on-2’s.
Black’s top defensive pairing in the scrimmage was Kevin Marshall and Chris Zarb. Orange’s top blueliners were Ryan Parent and Luca Sbisa.
Orange’s top forward line was Giroux, Nate Raduns and Patrick Maroon.
Defenseman Ryan Parent and forward David Laliberte worked alone on the scrimmage rink. They worked on puck handling, shooting and skating.
For the first time all week, Giroux looked like a stud. He was clearly one of the best players on the ice. He carried the puck well and made clean passes. He finds the open slot and seems always ready to accept the one-timer. He even laid a couple hits on the forecheck, which was impressive.
JVR had another solid outing, this time putting some pucks in the net. On one play JVR skated over the blueline and down the near-side faceoff circle. He slightly toe-dragged the puck to the inside and released a quick wrister through the legs of the defender and in on goal. The shot was saved, but it was a veteran move by the young winger.
Jonathon Matsumoto was the best player on the ice for black. He set up JVR on his first goal of camp and dished to Rob Bellamy for a goal. For a brief period he was centering a line with Nodl, which instantly made Nodl noticable in the offensive zone. After training camp concludes don’t be surprised to see Matsumoto atop the list of injury call ups.
Rob Bellamy, Chris Zarb and David Laliberte all had good showings. Zarb has really good speed for his size and he loves to get in on the offense. Laliberte and Bellamy just seem to be everywhere.
Ryan Parent was a steady as he was the past two days, but seemed more eager to get in on the offense today. He pulled the trigger numerous times and streaked at the net looking for a feed. His offensive game could be something the coaches are working on this offseason.
Both Oskars Bartulis and Michael Ratchuk were invisible early in camp, but came alive today. Ratchuk has blazing speed and looked good pitching in offensively.
Clackson continued to be a pest. Without Downie, his camp arch enemy, Clackson had no one to go with. He was never matched up with fighter Garrett Klotz. Clackson did get into some shoving matches, particularly one with Kevin Marshall, which caused a hub-bub behind the net. Clackson did make a pretty pass from the corner to an open linemate in the slot, who buried it.
His first scrimmage since signing an entry-level contract with the Flyers, Marshall looked light on his feet. He has some wheels and puck handling ability.
None of the goalies, Ericksson, DeSerres, Teslak or Duchesne looked particularly good. All were average at best except for Duchesne, who gave up three goals in five minutes.
I’m headed to camp again Friday and will report from there.