Coach Bruce Boudreau said he wanted to save the harsh evaluation of development camp for the end of the week, but by all accounts the first scrimmage at Kettler Capitals Iceplex was more physical than in years past.
Team B defeated Team A, 4-2, on Wednesday afternoon with goals by Caleb Herbert, Stanislav Galiev, Travis Boyd and Aaron Schmit, while Andrew Cherniwchan and Garrett Mitchell scored for the losing side. There wasn’t any hesitation among the players looking to prove themselves, either, when it came to showing a willingness to play with that physical edge.
“There was a lot more physical contact than in the last two development camps, at least early on for the first game,” Boudreau said. “I don’t wanna start saying [that] some guys are great, other guys are struggling. Overall, the older guys looked a little more mature than some of the younger guys. What I mean by that is they didn’t look as nervous, the guys that had been to this camp before. They’ve gotten better every day. I expect them to be even better tomorrow, and then by Saturday it should be a very good game.”
Free agent invitee Garrett Ross and Dustin Stevenson, who earned an entry level deal after arriving at last year’s camp as a free agent, fought in the third period, but one particular battle – between Cody Eakin and Mattias Sjogren – was also noticeable.
The two centers who are expected to compete for a spot on the Capitals’ roster at full training camp in September lined up against each other routinely. Sjogren used his size (6-1, 209) on multiple occasions to wedge Eakin (5-11, 179) out of the faceoff circle or away from the puck, and the Swede didn’t hesitate to finish his checks against the former third-round draft pick.
“Mattias is a little bit older, he’s stronger, he’s a big guy,” Eakin said. “So I kind of had to adjust my game a little bit in the zone and in the faceoff circles and it took a little bit to adjust, but I think after a while it was a little back and forth.”
Said Boudreau of Eakin: “I thought when he put his will to it that he wasn’t getting pushed around…Mattias looked pretty strong in the corners, on the pucks and things,but again, it’s the first day.”
Other notes from the first scrimmage:
--For someone who didn’t play the past five months because of mononucleosis, Philipp Grubauer certainly hasn’t shown much rust this week. Although he gave up two goals (Herbert and Galiev), Grubauer had strong rebound control and has garnered praise from the coaching staff.
“The one thing I really liked about him and I was telling Dave [Prior] and Olie [Kolzig] that he looked like – I don’t want to compare him to anybody – but the way he smothered the puck like Michal Neuvirth,” Boudreau said. “When Michal is on, how he just absorbs it, was Olie’s words, and [Grubauer] did that three times. When young guys can control the rebounds, I think it’s a big stepping stone in the right direction.”
--Wade Epp, a free agent invitee, left the scrimmage favoring his left arm in the second period and did not return. According to a team spokesman, he will be re-evaluated in the morning.
--Taylor Stefishen, whom the Capitals picked up via trade with the Nashville Predators earlier this summer, went off the ice in the second period as well and was wearing a brace on his right knee when he left the rink Wednesday night. He will also be re-evaluated in the morning.