Today had more emphasis on game situations like breakouts from faceoffs, and working with your designated line. Hartley whistled play down often when he didn't like someone's positioning, and once because the line wasn't talking to each other. There was some one-on-one work as well.
The teams remained the same, with two exceptions. Brad Larsen has developed back spasms -- he "seized up like an old mule" according to Hartley. He's out a few days. Joey Crabb, who was already on Team A, took his spot on the third line with Perrin and Dupuis. Grant Lewis has a hip injury, which started in Traverse City, and will be out a few days. It became too painful after Friday's practice to continue. Hartley expressed sympathy for him, saying injuries in camp are tougher on younger players because everyone gets ahead of them, they lose their chance to see what they can do. Brian Fahey switched from Team B, which had had one more defenseman originally, to Team A to even out the numbers.
Regarding the practice socks, it seems that everyone got the message about putting the stripe in the back except Pascal Dupuis. He kept his in the front.
Machacek wore red today, the color of the LaVallee, Little and Haydar line, and took turns with them. Hamilton wore yellow, the color of the Pospsil, Krog and Deveaux line and switched out there.
Pospisil took a high stick to the face early in practice and went to the bench bleeding. I talked to him briefly afterwards. I've seen worse cut lips, but he said he chipped a tooth as well.
It's worthwhile to remark that Kovalchuk is passing to Sterling often, perhaps even too much. This is an encouraging sign, one that says he respects Sterling as a player and that he thinks he could get passes back from him at some point. That's not to say Kovalchuk intends a give and go, in fact he almost never has looked for that play no matter who he's playing with. But what goes around comes around, and Kovalchuk obviously thinks Sterling is worthy of having the puck sometimes. And why not -- Sterling made a great no look back pass from near the boards to a streaking Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk just missed picking it up, but it was a great idea and something they'll want to try again. Another time later on, Sterling came from behind the net and scored and Kovalchuk gave him a nice tap on the shin pads.
It seemed like a lot was accomplished today with all of the instruction going on. That's not to say everyone was listening all the time though. The White and the Perrin line matched up against each other on a face off, with Dupuis and Kovalchuk opposite each other. While Hartley was talking, those two were discussing sticks. You could almost hear Kovalchuk say "oh let me see that," and take Dupuis' stick in hand to look at the lie.
Other guys did their stick shopping at better times -- Havelid gave a feel to quite a few of them in the stick rack after practice.
Oystrick looked a bit better today than yesterday, though he didn't excel on the mountains. Holzapfel was extremely patient with the puck and finished with a beautiful backhand roof job. McCarthy was physical, but not the right way, he was dangerously hitting people from behind along the end boards. Klee is solid, but a great puckhandler he is not.
The tan Marian Hossa continues to show why he's one of the best players in the world. He, Holik and Kozlov seem to be getting along well as a line. And they are scoring. Dan Turple was beaten badly by them several times, in an unfavorable matchup for him.
The players did timed mountains at the end. LaVallee, Kozlov each won their heats. Machacek beat Kovalchuk the first time, but he didn't let that happen again. Little led his group by almost an entire zone. Popovic beat White by a bit the first time, then they were even the second. Zhitnik did well, Krog did not. Pospisil looked like he was going to throw up afterwards. Hedberg beat Lehtonen handily both times -- so Kari checked him into the end boards. Klee was last in his group. Boulton did well, while Holik and Stoesz were last in that group (this same result happened twice). Pilar was last in his group the first time, but did better the second time.
The best at the mountains may have been Hossa. Colton Fretter was in his group, and posted a :46 time, which is solid (especially for someone invited to camp on short notice). But Hossa beat him by half a rink length. Hossa's fluid skating stride makes it look like he's not even working at it either.
Fretter got the call to come to camp on Wednesday afternoon, asking if he could be on a plane at 5:30. He packed and drove to Detroit to catch a flight. He had done squats that day, which from the sounds of it, wasn't what someone should be doing if they are going to have physical testing the next day. He said he was tired after practice today, but doesn't look like the surprise has hurt him too much.
The goalies all did some work on positioning after both groups finished.
Hartley elaborated a bit on the kinds of meetings he had with players at the start of camp. They included discussions about which positions they are comfortable playing, and at which ones they are at their best.
Those traveling for Sunday and Monday's games include Exelby, Perrin and I think Oystrick. Twenty-five players will make the trip.