I am not working this week, so I decided to head to Avs practices while I have the chance. Yesterday I slept in (I was having a wonderful dream about the Avs winning the Cup that I just couldn't allow the alarm to pry me away from), and missed the Avs morning skate. My bad folks.
Today they skated later in the morning and I got there early, before they had even hit the ice, and stayed until almost everyone had left.
In the good news side of things, all of our injured players did at least skate (apart from McLeod, whose hip must still be causing him troubles). Hejduk was out on the ice early and ran the early drills but left after about an hour and did not return to the ice. Wolski also skated for a little over an hour before ducking out. Liles is fine - apart from a nice shiner, and he skated the whole time. Svatos is looking good - he was even getting into a little extra-curricular contact against the boards while waiting his turn in drills. He should be good to go against Dallas tomorrow.
On the bad side of things. Budaj looked out of it at the start of the morning - he was obviously down (perhaps because of the rumors about the Avs going after the waivered Khabibulin - more on that later). After just about every drill he would stop to pray (I assume that's what he was doing anyway - knowing how seriously he takes his faith - and it looked like how I often pray) - but after the ice was cleared and the second half of practice started he seemed to gather himself and did well from then on out.
The guys ran various drills for the first half of practice, mostly shooting in teams, grey and black. Tucker and Jones spent more time on the line with Sakic. Clark and Foote were again paired on D - they have the makings of a great shut down line. Ledin is still going straight to the net - I have yet to see him score - but he making himself available for those rebound chances. Cumiskey looked good - but I'm beginning to side with those that would like to see him get lots of minutes in Cleveland than to have him languish as a 7th d-man here in Denver. Let Tjarnqvist be the 7th man, and put some serious development time into young Kyle on the Monsters.
Around 11 they cleared the ice, the skaters went back to the locker rooms, and Raycroft and Budaj spent some quality time with Hacket on the bench, just talking. (I think that really seemed to help Boots get his head after a crummy first half of practice). Most of the second half was spent working special teams with PP/PK drills. The PK looks good - which will be important as our gritty forwards are apt to take a lot of penalty minutes this season. The PP could still use some work. One screened shot got past Budaj, but for the most part not enough shots were being taken and they weren't jamming away at the few rebounds, so offensive opportunities were limited. The last half hour or so was spent in less organized drills - with Raycroft and Budaj taking turn in net being pummeled at close range, and the defensemen practicing their slap shots on the fly (Leopold hit a nifty one off the post - but with no one in net during the drill that's not saying a whole lot).
I will go back again tomorrow - and yes, I am aware that I missed blogging about Training Camp completely, but I will try to at least post some pictures later on in the week.
Tomorrow the Avs also host the Stars in a pre-season bout at the Can. I will be in attendance there as well, so I will probably have a two blog day tomorrow. I can tell you are all anxious with anticipation.
(Maybe I'll graze the topic of Khabibulin and why I think it would be a bad idea for the Avs to sign him then . . . . for now - he has cleared waivers, so we'll see what happens - maybe the Kings will pick him up, since they still need to get above the salary floor)
Peace, Love and Hockey