On the first day of training camp, Coach Bruce Boudreau told media members to not “read anything into anything” regarding his earliest line combinations of the season.
At this stage of training camp, there are 68 players on the roster, from NHLers to those who will eventually suit up in Hershey, South Carolina or on various junior teams. In some of the groups, though, there are combinations that are pretty safe to read into — like the fact that Matt Hendricks and Jeff Halpern are already skating on the same line.
“I think it’s a natural fit,” Boudreau said. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that those two might play together.”
Halpern and Hendricks were training together at KCI more than a month prior to the start of camp, and they will likely spend a considerable amount of time on the fourth line together this season. Now that camp has begun and Boudreau is laying out his systems, they can each get a better feel for how the other plays.
“We just spent 10 minutes after practice talking about different stuff, what he likes to do in certain situations, what I like to do — things that make us better as a pair, and I think it’s going to benefit us,” Hendricks said. “He’s been around for a long time, he has that experience that I’m going to feed off of. I look forward to where it takes us.”
Halpern added that what has already helped them find common ground is their work ethic, as neither player is one who takes practices or training lightly. They’re building up a mutual respect as well.
“I love the way he plays, how hard he plays and he has pretty good hands, too. He has a willingness to pretty much do anything out there,” Halpern said of Hendricks. “It’s not to say that you only play with one guy or two guys the whole year, but if you’re able to gain that chemistry right out of training camp, it helps.”