Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All-Short Team

With Theo Fleury back to his scoring/pest/short ways for the Calgary Flames, I got to wondering "Who are the best little men in the history of the game?" First, we'll qualify 'Little Man' and a player listed as 5'9" or less by HockeyReference.com. Second, we're not going to consider the pre-Original Six players, since humans in general were smaller back then. Let's say 1950 onward for our sample size. Third, we're not looking for a full team here...there are very few <5'9" defensemen to have played the game. And obviously Darren Pang is our goalie (sorry Chris Terreri fans!).

Line 1:
Marcel Dionne/Stan Mikita/Ted Lindsay

-This line has it all: speed, vision, grit, class and the ability to put the puck in the net. Three Hall of Famers in every sense. Three Art Ross winners here as well.

Line 2:
Henri Richard/Ivan Cournoyer/Bernie Geoffrion

-Well-rounded hockey played by this line. All three knew how to defend, pass and score. And Boom Boom invented the slap shot!

Line 3:
Joe Mullen/Pat Verbeek/Theo Fleury

-Joey from Hell's Kitchen, The Little Ball of Hate, and Toothless Theo. I dare any coach in the NHL today to produce a line that would beat the hell out of you, then score on you, as often as this one would. Also of note, Fleury is the shortest player (listed at 5'6") of all the forwards on this list. He was gone for so long, I'm not including him in the 'In Progress' section

Honorable Mention:
Rod Gilbert, Butch Goring, Dennis Maruk, Neil Broten, Cliff Ronning, Ray Ferraro

In Progress:
Martin St. Louis, Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta, Steve Sullivan

What jumped out at me while compiling this list is the number of amazingly gifted, Hall of Fame-caliber players under 5'9". There have been few players of their stature to have played the game but of those who made it, most have been exceptional. Dionna, Mikita, Lindsay, Geoffrion and St. Louis combined to win 9 scoring titles.

What also jumped at me was the number of French Canadian players on this list. Not coincidentally, there are also quite a few Montreal Canadians who have been successful despite their size. Perhaps this season is an homage to the past for the Canadiens, when smaller players dominated the game.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Caps Rookie Camp - Day 1 Pictures

Well, looks like Varly decided not to stick with his new Bauer pads and has switched back to his Vaughns.

Here are the pictures from Monday's Rookie Camp
Caps Rookie Camp - Day 1 Pictures

Capitals Rookie Camp - Day 1

I'll have some pictures up later today from yesterday's Day 1 of Caps Rookie Camp. I always love seeing the differences in speed and skill between the rookies and the vets. With the vets, the drills are always crisper, the passes always tape-to tape. More interestingly, the moves are always less showy (far fewer toe-drags and between the legs moves) and are almost always power moves (speed, using the body, positioning). The rookies think showing off their hands is how to get Bruce's attention.

I love some of Bruce's drills. The warm-up drills in the neutral zone (6 players, all with pucks, skating in close quarters; two teams of 3 players, each with a puck, passing between themselves; 1-on-1 keep-away) include a couple drills I use (except I'm usually throwing 20 novices into the same space) and love. I honestly thought I came up with those drills 3 years ago. Apparently, I'm not Canadian.

Of all the players on the ice, once again John Carlson stood out. During the 1-on-1 drills, I think 75% of the opposing forwards ended up on their backs and I'm certain I didn't see one of them get a shot off. Granted, most of these players aren't showing NHL speed, but it was still impressive.

Varly looks like he's breaking in his pads. I saw quite a few 5-hole goals that would have been gobbled up last year. He also looks like he's trying to hold back on some of his power moves. Varly's lateral movement is off the charts, but he's often so powerful that he leaves himself out of position when he moves side-to-side. I think he's finally seen what the NHL has to offer and is tailoring his game to what his opponents bring. He looked like he didn't care much how he looked on Day 1...like he was just trying to learn his pads and work his way into game shape.

Irbe is a VERY active goalie coach. After almost every shot, he was in Varly's crease offering an opinion or advice. I didn't see him down at Holtby's net much though...favoritism?

I like Varly's pads (see: a ton of the pictures). What I don't like? The silver and a red that's closer to Maroon than Caps Red. I would have gone Caps Red and white and not even think of Maroon as an option.

Lastly, I love Herbies (suicides to some people). I especially loved seeing Kugryshev and Miskovic with that "I'm going to die" look on their faces.