Monday, September 10, 2007

Habs get it right with the rookies

Carey Price, Janne Lahti, Kyle Chipchura all had one thing in common this weekend: they didn't play any hockey games. That's because the Canadiens have bucked a trend they started by opting not to have a rookie tournament. The first few sessions for the rookies were dedicated to drills:

From the Gazette:
There hasn't been a chance to evaluate Lahti in game situations because the first two days of the rookie camp have been devoted to drills. Stickhandling was the focus for the skaters yesterday as Sean Skinner showed his expertise.

Want to know why Canadian players rise to the top in the playoffs, why their scoring doesn't tail off like Europeans in March?

Well it's because from the age of 6 onwards, Canadians play hockey games from autumn to spring. Ice time is scarce, so it's games >> practices. Juniors get an NHL-type gameload in their seasons before entry into the bigs.

But, want to know why Europeans figure in the scoring leaders, can skate so well and have actually figured out how to get over the blueline without lobbing the puck into the corner?

Practice, practice, practice.

That's why I was happy to hear the Habs rookies were actually practicing (and maybe even learning a bit) before the other training camp starts. In my opinion, a few days dedicated to practicing skills is going to be a whole lot more valuable than 4 games against other rookies – most of whom will never ever pull on an NHL sweater anyway.

Carey Price will have to stop Crosby, Elias and Alfredsson to make the Canadiens. Stopping shots from Toronto's third tier can't help him prepare for that anymore than his seasons in junior did.

The young defensemen will have to hone their puck skills if they hope to play in Montreal, a frantic game with dumpouts and 17 minutes of ice (most without the puck) isn't going to greatly help them either.

There are enough games already, so it'snice to see the Habs realise this and work to help their prospects improve. Well done management, another positive decision...

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