Monday, September 12, 2011

Habs Rookie Camp - Day 1

SCRIMMAGE RECAP

On opening day, Team White dominated scrimmage play, controlling the flow for most of the game. Truly, if not for some key saves, the game would not have been as close as the 3-2 final score indicated. (we live Tweeted the game so you can see HERE for more details)

White got a pair of goals from Alain Berger and another from defenseman Darren Dietz who pinched in and collected an Alexander Avtsin rebound, while Red's responses came from Olivier Dame-Malka and Hunter Bishop.

We'll begin with the split of the roster by showing you both sides (the lines mixed up at times and the three goaltenders rotated):

TEAM WHITE

Ian Schultz - Michael Bournival - Alexander Avtsin
Alain Berger - Brendan Gallagher
Dany Masse - Philippe Lefebvre

Darren Dietz - Josh McFadden
Jarred Tinordi - Brendon Nash
Tony Dehart

TEAM RED

Ben Winnett - Philip Desimone - Aaron Palushaj
Olivier Archambault - Gabriel Dumont - Dustin Walsh
Hunter Bishop - Etienne Brodeur

Nathan Beaulieu - Joe Stejskal
Olivier Dame-Malka - Morgan Ellis
Jordon Southorn

Next, here are our thoughts on some individual players' performances today:


STANDOUTS / TOP PERFORMERS

Michael Bournival: Perhaps the best forward in the game, Bournival is a feisty, speedy forward who always wants to be fighting for the puck. He set up some nice plays and had a couple of chances himself. Not the biggest guy, but not afraid of anyone. Going to have a great season in the QMJHL, and then it'll be interesting to see if his offense can translate at a higher level, or if he's destined to be a third/fourth liner in the bigs.

Brendan Gallagher: Speaking of not being the biggest guy...
Gallagher was noticeably the smallest player on the ice, but oh boy was he impressive. He is happy to play in front of the net and screen goaltenders, much like Brian Gionta in Montreal, and looks to have vastly improved his speed. He used it effectively to come in hard on the forecheck. If there is one knock on his day, it's a bit of Chris Higgins-itis as he had many golden scoring opportunities but couldn't bury the puck.

Alexander Avtsin: Habs fans can't help but drool at the raw talent that is there. First, he is a real big body, looking the full 6'3" he's listed at. Solid speed, but particularly explosive first step, and unbelievable hands. Didn't make us feel ashamed for predicting a breakout AHL season for him. Many many scoring chances and shots on goal. BUT the areas he has to improve upon are also clear. Needs to make better use of his teammates as he tends to hog the puck (think Alex Kovalev). Definitely needs to work on play in his own end as he sometimes looked lost without the puck.

Alain Berger: A wildcard in the organization, I was impressed with my first time watching Berger live. Real big frame and very heavy shot, he does what he needs to do by driving the net and posting himself there. His play was deserving of the two goals he finished the night with. His skating isn't the best, but he seems to be able to overcome it with a very long stride and smart positioning which should help him make the adjustment to the pros.


SURPRISING NOTICEABLES

Ian Schultz: Wasn't expecting much from him, but playing on the far superior Team White definitely made him look good. Was able to not look out of place playing with guys like Gallagher and Bournival, even showing nice hands on some rushes. Not a great skater, but wasn't embarrassingly slow either. Hopefully he'll get more ice time in Hamilton this year and show good improvement.

Olivier Dame-Malka: A lot of people credit his success last season to the fact that he was an overager, but he didn't look out of place today with this group of prospects. Likely the best overall player on Team Red, even if his goal was soft, he showed nice hands in starting breakouts and leading the rush. Showed some solid ability at clearing the front of his own net as well. The best of the tryouts today, so if the battle for a contract is between him and McFadden, score round 1 to Dame-Malka. The worst of the try-outs, to me, was by far Jordon Southorn.

Darren Dietz: If people came to watch Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi, they didn't see too much. If they come to see this interesting pick from the last entry draft, however, they'd have left happy. Dietz had a very solid performance, showing good speed for his size and - in a game where lots of defensemen seemed to pinch unnecessarily - showed smarts on when to and not to support the attack. A project, sure, but love the potential.


DISAPPOINTMENTS

Aaron Palushaj: In a camp like this, as an established top AHL player, Palushaj should have been far and away the best player. Not only was he not that, he was barely noticeable, though it may be in part because his Team Red had little sustained pressure except for a few spurts. Looks like the Palushaj I saw when watching some Hamilton games live. A nice complimentary player at best, but one who needs to be surrounded by talent to produce. Not the biggest fan.

Brendon Nash: I am, however, a big Brendon Nash fan, so I hoped to see good things out of him today. His skating was choppy, and the offensive creativity we saw out of him at Habs training camp last year was gone (at least for today). Sitting in the Team Red defensive end, I didn't have the best view of his play defending, but not the best outing.

Jarred Tinordi: Another guy with a slow day was the giant Mr. Tinordi. His skating, often seen as one of his strengths for a man that stands 6'6", looked a little off today, and he was a little sloppy with the puck. Don't panic: it's just 1 day... but not the best start for him.


THE "MEH"

Nathan Beaulieu: Maybe my expectations were just too high, but Beaulieu showed nothing special today. He's quick - definitely a good skater - but he couldn't get much going and showed little in the way of transitional offense in this game. Not bad, but nothing impressive either, aside from 1-2 little rushes.

Dustin Walsh: I say "meh" in the nicest of ways, in that he wasn't good enough for me to call him a pleasant surprise, but he did exceed my expectations. Looks really big out there and has no fear charging into the offensive zone around/through defenders. May still be a solid prospect yet. One of Team Red's better forwards.

Both Olivier Fortier and Louis Leblanc sat the scrimmage out as they continue to rehab from injuries.

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DAY UPDATES:

3:36 PM - French website Dans Les Coulisses reports that early this morning (prior to the Rookie Camp members taking the ice), a number of current and former Habs skated / practiced. The group included Josh Gorges, Hal Gill, Scott Gomez, Mathieu Darche, Roman Hamrlik, and Steve Begin.

1:50 PM - Per Ellis on Twitter, he has returned to his hotel for the time being (presumably so did the rest of the rookies). They will return for a 5 PM scrimmage, of which we hope to have good coverage.

1:25 PM - After first meetings and work-out this morning, Habs rookies will take the ice for a scrimmage at 5PM. Our only "update" thus far is that, per their Twitter accounts, fellow Maritimers Peter Delmas and Morgan Ellis appear to be getting along quite well.

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If there's one thing to like about summer coming to an end, it's certainly this. Beginning today, we'll have actual real-life Montreal Canadiens news and updates to bring you on a daily basis, because it's on baby! The first stage of training camp - the rookie camp - opens today at the Complexe Sportif Bell in Brossard. There will be a scrimmage at 5 PM today, and we will bring you updates and any reports whenever we can throughout the day as we get them!

A reminder of who IS attending and who ISN'T:
http://yourcanadiens.blogspot.com/2011/09/canadiens-release-rookie-camp-roster.html

For camp participants from the QMJHL, their regular season has actually already started.

Amongst forwards, Michael Bournival is off to the hottest start, bettering the 5 points he had in 3 preseason games by scoring 5 goals and adding 1 assist in just the first two regular season games.

5'9" camp tryout Etienne Brodeur had a great first game of the year for Chicoutimi, notching 2 goals and 1 assist.

2011 first rounder Nathan Beaulieu was held off the scoresheet in his first two games and has a -1 rating. He'll need to round into shape quickly to assure himself a spot on Team Canada for the World Junior Championships.

Lastly, defenseman Morgan Ellis picked up 1 assist through two games with Cape Breton. Ellis had 36 points last year but finished a -27. He is a +2 this far this year, and with so many puck movers in the system, Habs fans should be very happy if he can focus on his defensive game first this season.

Over in the Western Hockey League, we're still in preseason mode, but since he's a prospect many want to follow close this season, Brendan Gallagher scored 2 goals in the only one of his team's four matches he was dressed for.

In other prospect news, Daniel Pribyl, a Czech center drafted by the Habs this June and who attended a summer development camp but will not be in Brossard this week, has begun preseason play with the Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga after having played last season with their junior club. AllHabs.net has a detailed report of one of his exhibition performances where he stood out as one of his club's best players in a 4-0 loss despite being one of the youngest forwards:

Here are the weigh-in's thanks to Hockey Inside/Out:
(note the typo of Morgan Ellis's birth year, which should be 1992 and not 1982, and Darren Dietz's first name which is listed as Nathan)





1 comment:

SeriousFan09 said...

In Beaulieu's defence for the start of his Q season, pretty much every member of the Saint John core was already deployed to their own rookie camp and tournament. From descriptions of their season opener it was like they had a Junior A squad dressed.