In front of a sparse Monday morning crowd, the Capitals’ rookies took to the ice for their second day of Rookie Camp. The prospects were put through a extended practice that consisted mostly of tedious timing drills. The usual suspects, guys like Cody Eakin and Marcus Johansson, impressed the coaches with their skill while RMNB worship idol, Stanislav Galiev, showed-off his blazing speed. Trevor Bruess also showed improvement throughout the session, darting easily through the timers that were set up to record their speed.
Bruce Boudreau noted that all of the players were in great condition for camp. And it’s true. The boys were moving faster and looking less winded after each and every drill. However, the session ended with the dreaded set of Herbies, which we can only describe as the worst suicides on earth. The sprints included skating back and forth repeatedly across varying widths of the ice, full throttle. By the end, all of the players were doubled over, struggling for air.
Photo by David Albers of naplenews.com
Here at RMNB, we love to write a lot about Alex Ovechkin, Semyon Varlamov, Alex Semin, Dmitri Orlov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Stanislav Galiev, and Dmitri Kugryshev (did I forget anyone?), but we’ve overlooked the 8th (and the least-known) Russian in the Caps system, Nikita Kashirsky. Now that he has been officially invited to rookie camp to form another awesome trio of Russians, we’ll fix that immediately.
Kashirsky, 24, is a Muscovite (just like me Ovi). As a kid, he started playing hockey at Dynamo and was a left winger. In the past, when Ovechkin was asked about who his favorite line-mates were at the Dynamo school, Kashirsky’s was one of the first names he always mentioned.
“We grew up together,” Kashirsky said of his relationship with The Great 8 in an interview with Corey Masisak last year. “We played in Dynamo since we were 8 years old. We’ve been friends since then, I guess. We became really good friends around the age of 14 or 15. Since then we’ve always been really close. We come to each other’s house, spend the weekends and stuff. We’ve been like brothers since that time.”
The Washington Capitals selected Stanislav Galiev (friends call him “Stan”) as the 86th overall pick in the draft. The baby-faced left winger from Moscow stood out during development camp as a competent skater, playmaker, and polyglot whiz. He’s not a particularly big player (178 lbs), but Galiev’s personality is plenty big. Our girl Friday, Oksana Zolotar, chatted up Stan in his native tongue following Wednesday’s scrimmage.
Follow us past the jump to learn about his adoration of Alexander Semin, bulking up, and Russian camaraderie at dev camp. If you missed Monday’s interview with Evgeny Kuznetsov, we politely remind you that this will all be on the final exam.
The morning got off to an early start with the annual equipment sale. When I arrived around 7:40 there was a line at the check-in table stretching back the length of Kettler Capitals IcePlex [Ed note: Do you people ever sleep?!?!]. Making my way into the stands that served as a waiting area until the sale officially started at 8am, I was shocked to see a section of the bleachers already filled. At 8am the crowd was led to the upper level of the rink where a vast panoply of new and used hockey equipment awaited their perusal. The crowd quickly, but orderly, made their way into the sale area, making a beeline for the player sticks and used practice jerseys. Patrons could be seen with armfuls of gear and frantically pawing through piles of clothing – clearly the event was a success for the Capitals.
Group A Observations
Braden Holtby still looks a little shaky in net, letting in a few goals he probably should have saved. This could be a function of the fact that he recently had LASIK surgery done on his eyes and they aren’t quite back to normal yet. It is also important to remember that Holtby went from starting to backing up Michal Neuvirth and did not play very much over the last two months of his season.
Anton Gustafsson continues to remain an enigma. It is clear that the young Swede pick has a plethora of talent, certainly worthy of him being first-round draft selection. However, there were times during the week when his motivation appeared questionable. For example, during offensive zone entry drills today, there appeared to be moments when Gustafsson would stop skating and lackadaisically enter the zone.
Yesterday, after the Caps’ second development camp scrimmage, players made their way rinkside for media availability. I noticed Evgeny Kuznetsov slinking towards a small group of kids and adults in the far corner of the practice rink. My developing reporter sense tingled and I followed Kuznetsov and listened in to his conversation with the group. The assembled crowd was a first-year Russian class from the University of Maryland, made up of mostly rising freshmen getting an early start on their language requirements.
Kuznetsov was incredibly patient with the class, patiently listening to their choppy questions in Russian (and even correcting them at times) and answering clearly and slowly, often repeating himself several times for their benefit. The group was later joined by Stanislav Galiev and the pair of baby Capitals talked about their favorite bands (Kuznetsov loves Russian rap), cities, and foods. It was clear the students appreciated the experience and it was cute to see the young Russians teaching Americans.
Check out a few more pictures below the jump.
By 9am the stands at Kettler were about 1/3 filled as the Capitals’ prospects took the ice for their second scrimmage of 2010 Development Camp. In marked contrast to yesterday’s chippy, gritty scrimmage, today’s affair was much more fluid and wide open, resulting in over 30% more scoring. On the red team the lines stayed pretty much the same as the first scrimmage. On the white team, Stanislav Galiev was bumped down to the second line, serving with Wade MacLeod (Jr, Northeastern) and Garrett Mitchell (WHL, 2009 Draft, 6th Round, 175th overall). The chemistry of the Galiev-MacLeod-Mitchell line was palpable: the line exploded for the first three goals of the scrimmage – MacLeod was 2-1-3 and Galiev was 1-1-2. Galiev scored his goal camped out in front of the net on a nice deflection that beat goalie Taylor Nelson (So, Ferris State) Red quickly responded with a pair of goals from Jake Hauswirth (both on mostly empty nets) and one from Stefan Della Rovere. The red and white teams alternated goals for the remainder of the game, with Cody Eakin and Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring for the red team and Marcus Johansson and Felix LeFrancois both picking up their first goals for the white team. In the overtime shootout Galiev scored the only goal to win the game for white with a sick deke in front of the net.
On Wednesday, RMNB statistician and all-around good guy Neil Greenberg was granted a credential to take photos for the Washington Examiner (See the story here). Check out his entire gallery of photos, including some that didn’t make the cut for the Examiner below. And make sure to let Neil know your favorite in the comments.
Day 3 was a busy day for the draftees and invitees at Capitals Development Camp. Both Group A and Group B were on the ice in the morning, and the whole squad took the ice in the afternoon for a scrimmage. The additional activity made for an extremely long day, one that not only left me exhausted, but also (and more importantly) left me feeling like a full-time member of the media. I also increased my attempts at multi-tasking: interspersing periods of photography with Tweets, especially during the afternoon scrimmage. Day 3 also provided a glimpse into the world of the best PR staff in the NHL when Nate and Kelly invited all the bloggers in attendance to a roundtable to discuss ideas and innovations.
Group A Observations
Group A was the second group to take the ice on Day 2, and arrival onto the ice was delayed over fifteen minutes because the coaching staff was unhappy with the ice conditions after Group B skated earlier in the morning. Of the Group A players, Eakin, Kuznetsov, and Orlov were by far the most impressive and polished. Kuznetsov was the class of the group, displaying noteworthy hustle and speed as well as solid shooting ability from the point and deft, light hands in close around the net. Two college invitees also showed flashes of brilliance. Sean Wiles, a junior forward from the University of Alaska Anchorage, threw his body around, landing several big hits and crashing the net well. Additionally, Andrew Cherniwchan, a sophomore forward from Northern Michigan University, put on a puckhandling show, leading Comcast Sports Net’s play-by-play announcer Joe Beninati, an unexpected visitor to camp, to label him a “dangler.”
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