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03-02-2009, 04:24 PM
Seth Lake
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Off-Day Practice Report

Surprised Glennon hasn't written an afternoon update on his blog. He, Boclair, and Yutzy were at practice today along with one other local news station camera.

Erat did not skate. Sulzer was skating without any restrictions (ie: no red jersey).

Lines the same as Saturday night:
Dumont - Arnott - Sullivan
Ward - Legwand - Smithson
Pihlstrom - Fiddler - Tootoo
Jones - O'Reilly - Koistinen/Belak

Weber - Suter
Hamhuis - Zanon
DeVries/Sulzer - Klein

Team had a great vibe about them throughout practice. They were working hard, but having a ton of fun as well. Players were challenging each other in all sorts of different ways all over the ice (ie: PP vs PK, centers on faceoffs, F's vs. D's, etc). It really reminded me more of the San Jose off-day practice I watched last season. Smiles and laughter all around.

Team started with a drill incorporating multiple breakout and regroup options in the DZ through the NZ before culminating in a shot coming off transition and followed up by two shots generated off the cycle. Stretched at center ice, then went into a simple formation for a couple shooting drills before working on 2 on 1 and then 2 on 2 rushes out of the same formation with the goalie making a breakout pass. The team switched from Rink 1 to Rink 2 and started back with a continous one-puck 2 on 2 drill and then finally wound up with continous 3 on 2 one-puck rushes.

At this point the team broke into special teams work with the following PP units:

PP1: Suter - Arnott at the point, Dumont - Tootoo - Sullivan down low. Sully was more of a rover all over the ice honestly.

PP2: Weber - Koistinen on the points, Ward - Legwand - O'Reilly down low. Cal was in Erat's spot and served in a similar capacity as Sully.

PP1 scored two goals and PP2 I believe had three, but both appeared to be moving the puck and people around pretty well, looking more to move the puck around to the open man and reading where the seams in the defense were rather than running set plays. Fiddler made a great read to deny a backdoor play during the last shift that Pihlstrom had been late to react to just minutes prior.

Team broke up into stations for individual work (defense at one end with Peterson, forwards at the other with Horachek, faceoff work with Trotz at center) and as the players started leaving the ice Korn worked with Ellis on a couple of goalie drills at the end with the remaining forwards. Peterson put Sulzer and Klein through extra work with Belak and O'Reilly helping out while Jones and Fiddler worked with Korn at the other. Ward did his standard puck-handling drills after practice off to the side of the rink. O'Reilly did something similiar later on by himself. After Klein went off the ice Sulzer continued to go through conditioning work with Peterson at one end while Belak and Jones worked at the other end on deflecting pucks.

Sulzer looked like he struggled with stamina towards the end, but is very close to returning to limited minutes (ie: 3rd pairing minutes). Shots were very inconsistent in strength and accuracy, but he made good passes, and didn't shy away from contact during drills. Don't think they are shooting for getting him back into the lineup tomorrow, but are trying to get him ready for post-deadline action (ie: DeVries is on his way out...).

Koistinen looked good at forward and was actually the first player (Dumont) to steal the puck on the forecheck from the goalies during the 2 on 1 breakout drill. He skated very well with and without the puck and worked well with the line. Not saying I'm gonna keep him around, but I actually like that Jones - O'Reilly - Koistinen fourth line on nights were we do not need to dress an enforcer.

One thing to keep an eye on...Klein crashed into the boards feet first after loosing an edge wheeling around the back of the net during the extra work with Peterson. Everyone stopped and cringed because it appeared that he might have twisted his ankle in the fall. Klein got up with a bit of a grimace and did finish the drill, but left the ice after that. Will be interesting to how his ankle responds later today and tomorrow after he takes off his skate.

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