TRAINING CAMP HEATS UP
By: Chad Lynch
On Wednesday, the Phoenix Coyotes took part in their second day of on-ice activities for the club's 2005 training camp. After suffering a 5-0 loss at the hands of Team "A" yesterday, Team "B" would extract some revenge today against the veteran heavy Team "C."
Team "C," which boasts such players as captain Shane Doan, Brett Hull, Tyson Nash and Mike Ricci, was the first to get on the scoreboard when Krystofer Kolanos backhanded a loose puck at the top of the crease through the legs of Brian Boucher for the 1-0 lead.
Team "B" would even up the contest a few minutes later when Ladislav Nagy's shot from the slot found space over the shoulder of Steve Passmore to tie the scrimmage at 1-1.
Shortly thereafter, Team "B" would take their first lead during this year's training camp when the newest Coyote Mike Leclerc found a puck sitting in front of Passmore and flipped it high to the glove side for the 2-1 lead.
Team "C" would come back to even the score at 2-2 when Tyson Nash stole the puck in the corner of the offensive zone, raced to the front of the net and slid the puck along the ice past Boucher.
Team "B" stepped up their game offensively as the first half of the scrimmage neared an end. They re-took the lead when rookie defenseman Keith Ballard took control of the puck in the right face-off circle, waited patiently until he drew a defender to him and hit Jason Chimera, who was standing alone at the side of the net, with a pass. Chimera quickly tapped the puck in for a 3-2 lead.
Less than a minute later, Chimera struck again, making it a 4-2 game when he deflected a pass from the corner into the net as he camped himself at the top of the crease.
As the second half of the scrimmage began, David LeNeveu replaced Steve Passmore in net for Team "C" and Dov Grumet-Morris relieved Boucher for Team "B."
The only goal of the second half came from Martin Podlesak, when he one-timed a pass from Doan past Grumet-Morris to cut the Team "B" lead to 4-3. Grumet-Morris made a number of key saves throughout the second half of the scrimmage to preserve the one-goal lead and give Team "B" their first win of the round robin series.
On Thursday, the Coyotes will hold their final scrimmage this week when Team "A" and Team "C" meet. The game will start at 10:30 a.m., followed by practice sessions at 11:45 a.m. (Team "A") and 1:00 p.m. (Team "B"). Team "C" will practice at 9:30 a.m., before their scrimmage. All sessions of the Coyotes 2005 Training Camp at the Glendale Arena are open to the public.
LET'S GET PHYSICAL
The biggest difference between Wednesday's scrimmage compared to Tuesday's was the overwhelming increase in physical play. During today's scrimmage between Team "B" and Team "C," both teams produced some bone-crushing hits that obviously raised the overall level of intensity.
"Everyone has a job to do and if you're a hitter, you've got to get back out there and throw your weight around to get back into the grove," said Tyson Nash. "It may take little more time to get to where I want be after having a year-and-a-half off, but that is what training camp is for and I enjoy getting back into my game."
Perhaps Nash is looking to expand his offensive role this season as evidenced by his tally in Wednesday's scrimmage.
"I am hardly considered a goal scorer," laughed Nash, "but it is good to have a little fun out there and see if you still got it."
DOES SIZE REALLY MATTER?
For the start of the 2005-06 season, the National Hockey League is making a series of crackdowns on the equipment and apparel that is worn by goaltenders. The league's goal is to increase scoring by taking away some of the bulk of the goaltenders pads, specifically limiting the width of goaltenders legs pads to 11 inches. But will the reduction in size be noticeable to NHL netminders?
"Today I tried out the new pants and leg pads and yesterday I used the new chest protector and it is tight," said Boucher. "It is a lot smaller than what a lot of guys have become used to. I can't even fit a knee pad in between the new equipment."
Luckily, Boucher and all other NHL goaltenders will have a few weeks to try and adjust to the new limits before opening night.
"It will take some getting used to without a doubt," said Boucher. "The gear is a lot tighter than it was two years ago and it limits some of your movement, but after we get used to it, we should be fine."
On Thursday, the Coyotes coaching staff will finalize the rosters for Friday's home game against the Minnesota Wild and Saturday's contest in Minnesota. Head Coach Wayne Gretzky did announce that Brian Boucher will start in goal on Friday night and David LeNeveu will start on Saturday. Curtis Joseph is slated to start the third game of the preseason on Tuesday, September 20th, when the Coyotes host the Los Angeles Kings at Glendale Arena.