Training Camp Update: First Weekend ... What We've Learned

Tuesday, 09.23.2008 / 11:39 AM / Training Camp Central
By Jay Levin  - Nashville Predators
The first weekend of Training Camp has passed, while it's way too early to make definitive statements on positional battles, there are just two more days of practice before the Preseason Opener so first impressions are critical toward determining pairings for the first couple preseason games.

So what did we learn from the first three practice sessions of camp?

1) Patric Hornqvist answered a lot of questions in his first few practices. The offensive skill was never in question; he's scored 41 goals in 102 games in the Swedish Elite League the past two seasons, plus an additional eight goals in 18 contests at the World Championships. And he's only 21-years old. So it was a given that he knew how to score. The questions revolved around his abilities to adjust to the smaller ice surface and more physical style of play in the NHL. The early returns look very positive. In Sunday's scrimmage he was physical along the boards – and didn't back down against the likes of Jordin Tootoo – and looked very comfortable making plays in high traffic areas. When he's been on the ice, the puck has seemed to gravitate toward him, which is definitely a good quality for a goal scorer. Hornqvist's two linemates, JP Dumont and Rich Peverley, were both very complimentary of the young Swede's performance thus far.

2) Pekka Rinne looks the part of a NHL goaltender. It's clearly Dan Ellis's team – just talk to any of the veterans and you instantly see the confidence they have in Elly between the pipes – but the young Finnish netminder is determined to make the incumbent earn it every step of the way. Rinne big, mobile, and calm in net and through the early going has been very sharp with his rebound control. Ellis is already established as one of the best puck moving goaltenders in the league, but Rinne's showed himself to be similarly adept at moving the puck.

3) The competitiveness of the team is already taking shape. Returning veterans Tootoo, Nichol, and Smithson have been scrappy already in camp, and the young guys haven't backed down as Antti Pihlstrom and Ryan Jones in particular have shown the same flair for playing the body. And in general, the defensemen have all shown an eagerness to throw a few hits. Even the usually reserved Dumont slammed his stick after being denied on a quality scoring chance late in Sunday's scrimmage (Dumont would atone with the go-ahead-goal on his next shift).

4) Jonathon Blum has looked as good as advertised. With the glut of talented defensemen in training camp, it's difficult for any of them to really stand out; there are a lot of defensemen playing at a very high level in camp. Still, Blum, the youngest defenseman in camp by a good 17 months, has looked very comfortable through the first weekend of play. He was solid in Monday night’s Rookie Game and created some offensive chances from the point during Sunday's intrasquad scrimmage. His performances haven't been lost on the coaching staff; Coach Trotz has mentioned Blum's play in his media sessions each of the past two days. He's almost assuredly going to be reassigned to his Junior team for the start of the season, but the only discernible difference between him and some of the NHLers is the goofy training camp number on his back (wearing #56).

5) Michael Ryan and Joel Ward got off to good starts. Ryan drew the attention of the coaching staff for his solid play in Sunday's scrimmage, which is always a good thing for a non-roster invitee. While Ward, written off by many fans to be an automatic addition to the Admirals, very quietly put together a solid start to camp. He's showed a strong puck control presence in three-on-two drills during Saturday's practice session and carried it over to Sunday's scrimmage, especially when he took shifts with Antti Pihlstrom. If they want to earn consideration for the NHL team, both Ryan and Ward need to continue their strong play through the remainder of camp, but their first weekend performances give the coaching staff some options to tinker with over the next few weeks.




1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67


S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43 is the official Web site of the Nashville Predators and are trademarks of the Nashville Predators.  NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 Nashville Predators and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

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