Rookie Camp - Day 1

As promised, I made the trip out to Kettler today to attend the first day of Caps' rookie camp, or, as I like to call it, "Prelude to a Training Camp". It was the first time I've stepped foot in a building with an ice rink since April and, despite the fact that it was excessively early for a Saturday, I was instantly transformed from a groggy, slightly hungover mess into a giddy fan. It was the first time I've been to KCI (which is a beautiful facility), as well as the first time I've ever actually attended any sort of Caps practice.

What I quickly discovered is that watching hockey players practice is not nearly as entertaining as watching hockey players play hockey. To be fair, there were some particularly fun moments, but for the most part, what we saw out on the ice today was still a pretty lame imitation of the game that has me longing for this month to be over. As such, it's pretty difficult to report any sort of "news" from today's skate. Nicklas Backstrom, obviously, was one of the real standouts. This was the first time I'd seen him in action and he is definitely deserving of all the hype. During one drill that involved a scrum in front of the net the puck popped up into the air, and his ability to stick with it, find the puck and manage to get a shot off while spinning around to face the goaltender was quite impressive.

That said, my impression of Backstrom may have been colored by the fact that the KCI staff apparently failed to properly disinfect the Caps' dressing rooms, as many of the players on the ice appeared to be suffering from Zubritis*. During one breakaway drill, it seemed like Backstrom was the only player who managed to even get a shot on net, with most of the guys shanking pucks over the crossbar and off the glass, or else well wide. In J.P.'s (paraphrased) words "These really are Capitals prospects."

On the defensive side of things, I was impressed enough with Sasha Pokulok that I made an effort to learn to correctly pronounce his name (it's pronounced sort of like "potluck" only with an "uh" in the middle). First of all, the guy is huge, but he also seemed to be pretty sound positionally, and I saw him use some excellent stickwork to disarm several forwards of the puck during drills. As with any young, large defenseman, I'd like to see him throw his body around a little more, but I think he, along with Jeff Schultz and Milan Jurcina, could one day be part of a physically intimidating Caps' backline.

The best part of the day though, for me at least, was playing the role of pseudo-journalist, as I snuck back to the locker room area with CapsChick and J.P. and Ken. Even though I had nothing to do but stand and stare, just being that close to a guy like Nicklas Backstrom was definitely an experience. I still have no desire to sit in the press box during games, but I think I could really get into this whole "interviewing players at practice" thing.

Unfortunately, I managed to forget my camera when leaving my apartment, but I'm sure there will be pictures at Japers' Rink, A View From the Cheap Seats or DCSportsChick, all of whom had cameras.

(*Webster's Dictionary defines "Zubritis" as "a sudden inflammation of the tendency to play like Dainius Zubrus")

PROGRAMMING NOTES - Due to the fact that I have a matinee performance tomorrow, I won't be able to attend Day 2 of rookie camp. I'll be back at it for the rest of camp, though, including (possibly) a trip to New Jersey on Wednesday to see the kids take on the Flyers' rookies.

Another important note is that my next entry will be #100 for me here at the KHFC. With my 100th post will come some slight changes to the blog, in the form of rookie KHFC contributor DefDude, who is going to start helping me out around here when my acting duties prevent me from being as involved as I'd like. Or when I get too lazy to write anything. Or whenever he feels like it, really. So just be prepared for a sudden onslaught of awkwardly censored vulgarity and strange paragraph structures.

1 comment:

Shmee said...

Ha, I loved your explanation of how to pronounce Pokulok.

Welcome defDude!