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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Five Players That Stood Out in Scrimmage No. 2

Much like the different complexions a playoff series takes on over its duration, Monday's scrimmage at the Calgary Flames Development Camp had a bit of a different feel from Saturday's initial game.

While there were a couple players that changed to the opposite jersey colour to balance out the numbers, it was mostly the same two Red vs Black sides from Saturday and with many of the forward lines remaining intact, maybe that explained the better cohesion on the ice and overall improved game flow, better passing, etc.

What the second game in three days would most definitely explain is the spicy first period in which tempers were flaring and there was plenty of crankiness. The biggest incident was a vicious cross-check to the face of Tim Harrison by the normally calm, cool and collected Sven Baertschi, who didn't take too kindly to being hit heavily into the boards by the enthusiastic 6-foot-3 forward, who was drafted by the Flames in the sixth round.

In another incident, camp invitee and Kris Letang look-a-like Trey Lewis hit Baertschi and for his troubles, he later got the pointy part of the elbow from giant defenceman Keegan Kanzig.

All in all, it was another high tempo and entertaining game for the big crowd of Flames fans that turned up on a Monday morning at WinSport. It wasn't as large a crowd as Saturday's gathering but had to be at least 500 people and they liked the intensity from the two sides, even if the Calgary coaches didn't. After that testy first period, both teams were told to cool it and sure enough, they did.

Five Players That Made an Impact

1. C Markus Granlund - It's too bad he doesn't speak English as he followed up a good scrimmage on Saturday with a great scrimmage on Monday. Instead, he let his on-ice play do the talking and boy did it speak volumes. As Sven Baertschi alluded to when I asked him about playing alongside Granlund in this story from Saturday, Granlund is particularly good at 'Finnish hockey' as Baertschi called it and that is always having his head up regardless of whether he does or doesn't have the puck. This enables him to always be looking, to always know where the open guy is and he makes some dynamite passes as a result. He also has a good shot and quick release and in the second period Monday, he stole the puck in the slot and just like that it was behind goaltender Brody Hoffman. He seems very capable at the face-off dot, too. Markus was one of the Flames two second round picks in 2011, selected 45th overall. He's been playing hockey with the men in the Finnish Elite League and last year, as the youngest player on HIFK Helsinki, he was second on the team in scoring.

2. LW Turner Elson - Boy did this guy ever make himself noticeable on Monday. He was all around the puck, had great jump and was like a vulture in the offensive zone -- constantly buzzing around the net, zipping passes all directions, and firing shots from everywhere. On one rush, he looked like Johnny Gaudreau dancing around Brett Kulak down the wing and nearly potting a goal as he cut hard to the net. He's an Alberta kid from St. Albert who just wrapped up a four-year career at Red Deer (WHL). He was never drafted but signed with the Flames in 2011 and is likely destined for Abbotsford this season. Playing on a line with two undrafted kids in camp on a tryout in Josh Jooris and Linden Penner, that isn't exactly a plumb assignment considering all the draft picks on hand, yet that trio was dangerous in both games. I talked with Elson post-game and he was really happy with how it went and admitted he should have had at least three goals. He's a real nice kid and I will have a profile piece about him out later in July so look for that.

3. RW Tim Harrison - Too me, he's sort of a Mark Jankowski 2.0 as he was also drafted out of high school and at 6-foot-3 is similar in stature. His big frame seems to be around the puck a lot and he's not shy about getting in after the puck and playing a hard-nosed style. That style earned him that aforementioned 'simmer down' stick to the mush from Baertschi -- which he answered by scoring five-hole on the penalty shot he received. Later on, Kanzig challenged him in an long stare-down that included a couple stick whacks and jiggling of the gloves. After that, it was surly blue-liner Patrick Sieloff with a frisky couple shoves -- those same two also got at each other on Saturday. Off the ice, he's a very charismatic character and dare I say he had me wondering if this is how Craig Conroy might have been at age 19. If you haven't heard the great story about his mini bike racket he had going on at the Stampede on Friday night, it's a must-listen and you can hear him tell the story here.

4. LW Johnny Gaudreau - Whenever he's on the ice, you simply can't take your eyes off him as his ability to weave around traffic and repeatedly make something out of nothing is impressive. I caught up with one-on-one afterwards and he talked about how much he liked the Flames young team, how much he enjoyed this year's development camp, getting to know the guys and playing with Sean Monahan in particular. He also talked about "hopefully" putting on a Flames sweater as soon as this upcoming season once his Boston College season is over, similar to what Ben Hanowski did last season. Read my full Johnny Gaudreau story here.

5. D Ryan Culkin - Not flashy but plays a steady game in his own end, makes a great first outlet pass that resulted in some odd-man rushes. Seemed to show good instincts in the offensive zone too in one sequence making a smart pinch and ragging the puck deep into the zone before making a slick centring pass. He's a lanky kid that the Flames drafted in the 5th round in the 2012 draft from Patrick Roy's Quebec Remparts. That pick was notable in that it was the first time in eight years Calgary had selected a player from the QMJHL This year, of course, they dipped into the 'Q' again with the pick of Emile Poirier 22nd overall. Culkin will inevitably fill out more and adding more muscle to his 6-foot-1 frame will make his net presence that much more stronger.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the recap. Excited about Granlund's Harrison's play in particular.

    ReplyDelete