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04-06-2013, 01:20 PM
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Got to See the Kids Last Night in Austin

Here are my impressions for what it's worth.

Joe Morrow
Retrieved the puck well. Awkward body positioning along the boards but often came away with the puck. Carried the puck on the rush like a center but would often get to space and look unsure of what to do with the puck. Had one play where he looked like a carbon copy of goose, skated into trouble and threw the puck at a covered teammate and created an odd man rush the other way. Looks like he has a lot of good tools but needs some refinement to his game. Good skater and puck skills. Pretty much as advertised.

Kevin Connauton
Was pressing a little bit. Looked like he really wanted to make a good impression and show off his shot. Settled down in the third. Played heavier than the 185 he is listed at and was pretty scrappy in front of his net and the corners but still got outmuscled some. Good skater and great poke check. Looked a little lost positionally at times, when to activate, gaps on rushes, when to chase up the boards and when to retreat to slot, but it was his first game with us and these things can be coached. Pretty good skater.

Not a great performance but better than I thought he would be. Could be a good 4-6 power play guy.

Cameron Gaunce
A surprise. Was exceptional positionally, often beating opposing forwards to the spot they were going to be at. Broke up a ton of passes and really saw passing lanes. Smooth going to the boards on dump-ins and retrieving the puck or at least boxing the forward out. Activated smoothly and rotated low once or twice smoothly with forwards. Had a good crisp low wrist-shot that hit the net. He might be one of those guys that look great at AHL but doesn't translate well to the NHL (ala Fortunus) but could definitely be a dependable, plus bottom pairing guy. He was much smoother and complete than I expected after what I read. A last thing I really liked: he often called out instructions to forwards for who to take and where to be. Calmly and with assurance. Really seemed strong and dependable out there. So yeah. A pleasant surprise.

Brett Ritchie
Definitely a man out there. Had a couple of nice bull rushes against big defenseman and just pushed his way in. Found pucks and rebounds around the net and managed to get shots off, the shots were often to the corners and often with defenseman draped all over him. Had problems receiving passes when skating at speed and didn't have a good shot from distance. Hands were great around the net but not good in space. Disappeared for stretches. All that aside he definitely looks like the real deal. Needs a little time but will be a top-6 player for sure.

Nemeth didn't play sadly. Scratched to make room for all of the kids. Mike Commodore had a really nice wrist shot goal from the high slot which I can barely type with a straight face.

Reilly Smith was the best player on the ice but just tried to do it himself. Really didn't trust his teammates.

That's some first game observations. For whatever they are worth.

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