Ryan Potulny scored a hat trick to lead Team C to a 6-3 victory over Team B in the first scrimmage of training camp Tuesday.
Potulny, one of the forwards fighting to distinguish himself from the competition for a spot on the opening-night roster, netted consecutive goals in the third period to turn a 3-2 deficit to a 4-3 lead. Team C, with Tomas Vokoun in net, was not challenged the rest of the way.
Potulny played on a potent line that also included Troy Brouwer and Keith Aucoin. After Potulny’s third goal, Brouwer jokingly collected the puck for a keepsake, then snatched the baseball cap off Braden Holbty’s head and threw it onto the ice, eliciting some chuckles from the benches and the small crowd at KCI.
“I’m sure he feels good about it, playing against some NHL talent,” Team C Coach Mark French said of Potulny. “I’m also sure it opens up some eyes for some people. His M.O. is that he’s a goal scorer. He’s done it at the AHL level and in Edmonton, when he had his only chance to play his only full NHL season. I think he had 15 goals with the Oilers [in 2009-10], and that was evident today.”
Potulny was excited, of course. But the 27-year-old from Grand Forks, N.D., was also keeping things in perspective.
“I know there’s not a lot of spots here right now,” he said. “But hopefully I can open some eyes and show them what I can do.”
Linemates Jacob Micflikier (two goals) and Jason Chimera also scored for Team C. (Mattias Sjogren played on that line, too.)
Speaking of Holtby, he was the early favorite for first star of the game before Potulny’s offensive outburst. Holtby played the first period and a half for Team B, yielding just one goal despite facing a handful of dangerous scoring chances.
His best save came early in the second period, when he made a pad save at the post on Micflikier before springing to the top of the crease to smother a one-timer off Chimera’s stick. As Holtby came off the ice for the mid-game goalie change, he did so to the appreciative stick taps of his teammates.
“His lateral movement is a good as anybody’s,” Team B Coach Troy Mann said of Holtby. “He can move side-to-side and sees the ice so well, he makes those saves look easy.”
Here a few more observations from Tuesday’s scrimmage, which featured 20-minute periods and 15 minute intermissions, as well as a referee and two linesmen.
*Jeff Schultz and Dennis Wideman looked like a D-pair that’s logged some big minutes in the NHL together before. Oh wait, they have. So it should come as no surprise they were the best blueliners on the ice.
Wideman went down awkwardly in the first period and appeared to be favoring a leg. He did not, however, miss a shift.
*Hershey goalie Dany Sabourin yielded five goals in about 30 minutes of action. It’s tough to assign blame without the benefit of replay, but I’m sure he’d like to see a few of those shots again.
*Mann said he was impressed with center/right wing Christian Hanson. I noticed him mostly because he consistently finished his checks.
“He might have been our best forward in terms of effort level,” Mann said. “He was responsible in his own end and got in hard on the forecheck. He stood out for me.”
*Vokoun did not yield a goal for Team C, but he also was not tested often. He relieved Philipp Grubauer, who yielded three goals in the first period.
*There were two fights: Danny Richmond vs. Taylor Stefishen and Phil Oreskovic vs. Andrew Carroll.
*Jeff Halpern centered a line with Matt Hendricks. It’s becoming apparent that the coaching staff wants the chemistry between those two to grow.
*Roman Hamrlik appeared to be no worse for wear after leaving Sunday's conditioning test early with tightness in his groin muscle. A couple of times, he went into full sprint mode to get back into position and did not appear to be in any discomfort. (He spent much of the game paired with John Carlson.)
*On a personal note, a lot of folks have been asking why I’ve been writing about the Caps so much the past month or so. Well, my role at The Post has changed a little bit. I’m still the Hoyas beat writer (I’m not giving up that trip to Maui for anything), but I will be doing a LOT more Caps this season. Katie is the beat writer and will provide daily coverage of the team; I’ll blog/write as frequently as my schedule allows and hope to weigh in once a week with an On Hockey column.