Hi guys, just got off the plane from Edmonton after catching both games live. I have to agree with some of the other reports that Saturday's game was a lot crisper than Friday's. Both teams seemed a little nervous in front of over 16,000 fans, which was just incredible. I sat right on the red line about 18 rows up, so had a great perspective in which to gauge the game. Onto the players:
Higgins - This young man is the real deal. His stick handling was incredible, and he appears to have bulked up and the extra size really helps him control the puck down low. When he kicks it in, he can hold onto the puck for nice long periods of time. His on ice vision is great, as he seems to find his teammates with great passes all game. On Friday, he was stoned a few times late in the game by Tyler Moss, but he gets the chances and should start to convert them soon. From those two early games, he is now the closest thing we have to a NHL ready prospect IMO.
Plekanec - Good skater, decent stick handler, and always hustles out there. Along with Higgins and Milroy, this was the top line all weekend and he got lots of ice time, including top billing on both the PP and PK (along with Higgins). Seems quite small out there compared to some of the big boys, but he works hard.
Milroy - He seems to be a lot quicker than the last time I saw him. He also doesn't shy away from mucking it up on the boards, which is good to see. This guy hustled a lot and you can see why Jarvis put him on the top line, the skill is there and he will no doubt start to conver that into points this season.
Morgan - He was the checking centre and had lots of different linemates all weekend. At times, Thinel, Ferland, Ivanans, Lambert, Ott and even Kosty were on with him. He really hustles out there, I was suitably impressed. He is the oldest player on the team, and he leads by example. Not as much of a pest as Begin (that title is clearly Ott's), but I like what he brings to the team.
Thinel - I know he scored the only goal on Saturday night, but I thought he had a good game on Friday before his heroics last night. He is a quick skater, but is very slight, so he tends to shine in open ice. Nice addition to the team.
Ferland - Good to see a prospect that doesn't shy away from the physical play. He should be a permanent part of the checking line all season I would guess.
Kostitsyn - That Friday night goal was a beauty, a true laser beam that beat Moss stick side and was bulging the twine before he even moved. Other than that, a fairly quiet weekend. He doesn't have explosive speed, but is a good all round skater. I know the early reports have him been seen as a floater, but Jarvis is working on that. After every shift, Jarvis would have a little chat and point to where he could have done something better (Jarvis wasn't doing this with other guys, so seems to be working with him a lot). Lots of head nodding by Kosty, so he will get better over the season under Jarvis's watchful eye. I did like that he tended to engage the play when he didn't have the puck, instead of floating and waiting for the puck to find him. What I didn't like was his annoying habit of always trying to stick handle through the entire team. He needs to use his linemates better and stop coughing up the puck at the blue line.
Locke - Corey had a decent debut, and really didn't seem all that out of place. He has such good hockey sense, and you can really see that when he is out there. A good stick handler and he makes nice passes. He is quite overmatched size wise, but tries to compensate with that hockey sense and good positioning on and off the puck. He could use some more boosters in the rockets, but he speed is not as dead slow as some have pointed out.
Lambert - Had a fairly uneventful debut. Good to see him playing right off the start, but was almost invisible in both games.
Ivanans - He and Rocky Thompson had it in for each other all weekend. He made a real boneheaded hit from behind that got him tossed early in the first game, and Rocky and he were destined for a bout on the rematch...and they both didn't disappoint. He is the bona fide tough guy on the team. Believe it or not, but he wasn't the biggest guy on the ice. The RR's had this guy Henley who is 6'7" and 260 lbs.
Ott - Wore on of the two "A" this weekend (along with Hainsey). At 180lbs, he isn't the biggest buy out there, but he is the biggest pest. Always yapping after the whistle, and on one occassion on Friday night skated by the RR bench and had a few things to say. Rather surprised nobody went after him later. He is a good two-way guy and skates quite well. His NHL experience is clear to see out there.
Hainsey - The other "A" and I was impressed with his weekend. He got tons of ice time and was on the PP and the PK, especially the 5-3 PK's on both nights. He made a few mistakes, but he seems a lot more committed out there. He was helping out the other D on positioning all weekend and really seems to be taking the leadership role to heart. If he keeps this up, I am optimistic about a good season for him. He is the second biggest D after Archer, and seems to be much better at taking players out of the play. His skating is solid, and probably only Daley is faster amongst the D. I also liked his outlet passes, nice and crisp and right on target.
Daley - Smaller guy, but has great wheels. Played with Jancevksi most of Friday, but ended the weekend with Ronner and played all Saturday with Ronner. Good PP guy who should get a fair bit of ice time this season.
Archer - Still seems to be just a bit behind the pace of the game, but had a much better game on Saturday when he seemed to be taking the body more. Not taking the body on Friday actually led to the RR's second goal, so he needs to make that a big part of his game.
Shasby - Nice to see him play both games. Decent size, although seems a bit skinny but tall. He tends to rush when under pressure and tends to dump of the boards and glass a lot. Nothing spectacular overall, but a decent skater.
Plante - He was the one D who was getting his shot on net (Hainsey seems to pass a lot), and was rewarded with a goal on Friday (he was the team leader with 3 in the preseason). Not a very big guy, but was on the top pairing with Hainsey for most of Friday, only to be matched up with Jancevski for the latter parts of that game and all Saturday. He is your basic stay at home no-frills guy.
Jancevski - Decent size, stay at homer. Didn't notice him too much.
Ellis - Good fundamentals and played a strong game on Friday after letting in a goal on his first shot. His experience shows and should be a decent back stopper for the Dogs. Made some big saves during all those darn penalties in the second half of the game.
Danis - He is quick and is really, really square to the puck all game (he earned that shutout and #1 star selection). He has good rebound control. Three AHL regular season starts, two shutouts (going back to his two games last season). I can see Jarvis platooning the two of these guys all season. A pretty good duo IMO.
Just another note, Ott and Hainsey wore the two "A"s but nobody wore the "C". I am guessing that they might be saving that for big #8 once his hip heels up. The D will be much better once Komo is there.
It was great to see hockey again and great to see those Hab-like uni's out there!!
Why Jarvis is giving him not a lot of icetime to Kost ! He has to understand that He will be undisciplined from time to time.He scored a goal in the first match.So He needs to take more shots the more ice time he will get the more shots he will get.We know that his shot is DEADLY so let him play on the first line with first line PP icetime.I saw that He had just 2 shots that isn't enough.