Sunday, January 28, 2007

Capitals Sunday Practice Update

First a quick look at the lines for today's practice:
  1. Red line - Ovechkin, Zubrus, Clark, plus Zednik who should play Tuesday in Ottawa
  2. Teal line - Semin, Laich, Fehr
  3. Yellow line - Pettinger, Gordon, Sutherby
  4. Black line - Brashear, Beech, Clymer
Mike Green was the first to hit the ice 15 minutes before practice was scheduled to begin. He showed no signs of his recent ankle injury and seemed to be skating at 100%.

Once again Brian Pothier and Matt Bradley were not at practice today joining injured list members John Erskine and Brian Muir on the sideline.

The practice had a very technical feel to it and the team was treating it that way as, despite the big win last night, there was not a lot of hooting and hollering today. They started off with a forechecking drill where the center was responsible for pressuring the puck in the offensive zone while the two wings covered the side boards preventing the breakout pass. Next was an outlet drill that had a couple of variations to it, all of which ended up in a breakaway scoring chance. This was followed by a drill that focused on their quick breakouts as 2 defensemen were located on each side of the forward line. They would change directions a couple times before entering the offensive zone.

The next part of practice was the most heavily practiced drill of the day as they worked on their play in the corners. The exercise would last as long as the offense controlled the puck. There were three variations of this drill that included dividing the offensive zone into a smaller area. They were highly contested drills as there was a lot of hard hitting led by none other than Ovechkin. Jeff Schultz also knocked Brooks Laich to the ice, drawing a roar from the players. While this was going on, Kolzig and Johnson took turns working with goaltending coach Dave Prior on the other side of the ice.

The practice finished up with a 3 on 1 breakaway drill that also included a trailing defenseman. Ben Clymer had the prettiest goal in this exercise beating Johnson glove side that drew an applause from the nice crowd on hand. I would estimate that there was about 200 people there on this Sunday morning as the bleachers were mostly full.

After practice Jamie Heward brought his son out for a little mites on ice entertainment. I lost track counting the number of times he fell which was amusing.

The NHL returns today to NBC with a regional game at 3:30 PM ET. If you are a fan of hockey you should support the sport as we need all the ratings we can get. The local game in DC should be Philadelphia at Atlanta.

Down on the Farm:

Before a sellout crowd of 10,734 people at the Giant Center last night, the Hershey Bears took a 2 goal lead into the third period before falling to the Norfolk Admirals 4-3. Newly demoted Jakub Klepis scored his first AHL goal of the season and Chris Bourque added his 12th and 13th in the losing effort. It was the Bears second straight loss heading into the All-Star break as they are now 4 points behind the division leading Admirals.

Matt Stefanishion tied the game at 3 late in the third period and Donny Grover got the game winner in overtime as South Carolina rallied for a 4-3 win at the Texas Wildcatters. It was the third consecutive game in as many nights between the two teams. Davis Parley stopped 42 of 45 shots for the win in his fourth consecutive night of work including his game with Hershey on Wednesday. The Stingrays will take a much needed break and return to action on Friday night in Duluth, Georgia against the Gwinnett Gladiators.

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