The Russell Report: Observations From Scrimmage One
Pekka Rinne – In just his second full practice, Rinne looked like himself, which is a good sign for Preds fans everywhere. He was sharp, agile and quick when attacking the puck during limited drills and the scrimmage. The Kempele, Finland native played the first 20 minutes and did not allow a goal. His conditioning didn’t seem to play a factor in his ability to stop the puck and he returned to the ice immediately following the scrimmage to work with Goaltending Coach Mitch Korn. As I wrote in the Training Camp questions blog, Preds fans should expect Rinne to get more rest during camp to ensure he is ready to go come opening night.
Seth Jones – Nashville’s first pick in this year’s draft continues to play as advertised. During the scrimmage, Jones seemed poised and was solid in his own end. Playing against much faster and more skilled competition than he is accustomed to for the first time didn’t seem to faze him – he was able to use his size and foot speed to gain position on veteran skaters like David Legwand and Paul Gaustad. Each time Jones steps on the ice it becomes more apparent why he was such a draft-day steal for the Predators .
Clune-Gaustad-Hendricks – The line of Rich Clune, Gaustad and Matt Hendricks saw a lot of time together during this afternoon’s scrimmage, and tallied the first goal of the White vs. Silver game. While this line isn't expected to produce big numbers, they were the grittiest of the bunch today. Clune made sure to hit every player not wearing silver, while there seemed to be no ill-effects from Gaustad’s offseason shoulder surgery.
Marek Mazanec – Opposite Rinne, rookie netminder Marek Mazanec looked very sharp in net, making a number of big saves in front of on-looking General Manager David Poile. While the Czech-born goalie is still learning the North American style of play, he displayed poise and agility during his 20-minute on-ice session.
Mattias Ekholm– A season in Milwaukee seems to have done the big Swede some good. Ekholm was easily recognizable not only from his size, but from his ability to effortlessly transition the game from the defensive end.
Brendan Leipsic – The feisty winger from the Portland Winterhawks was tenacious during the scrimmage. He wasn’t afraid to attack the hard areas of the ice and he was able to create separation with speed and stick handling. While he did not score during the first scrimmage, it is easy to see why he led the Western Hockey League in points last season. Due to his age, Leipsic will have to return to Portland if he does not make the NHL squad after camp, but fans should be excited for what this 19-year-old brings to prospect stable.
The Preds will scrimmage on Saturday at 12:45 p.m., and again on Sunday at 12:45 p.m.