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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 9:06 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor / - Super Saturday

Flames Camp: Iginla's start stalled

Training camp did not start as hoped for Calgary and Jarome Iginla.

The Flames captain and leading scorer from last season only made it through 30 minutes of Saturday's session, the team's first practice of the new season. Back spasms forced Iginla to leave the ice early.

"Unfortunately, after I'd started a little bit, I had a little bit of a spasm there," Iginla told reporters. "It's nothing I haven't had before. I've had them during the season at different times.

"I thought it was better to be safe than keep aggravating it."

Iginla, though, said there was little reason for concern. As an older player, he says, he pays more attention to the messages his body sends him and did not want to take any chances so early in camp.

"Most of my training was more geared toward skating and puck skills, just to keep trying to improve in those areas and be a more efficient skater, not really so much to be necessarily bigger or stronger," Iginla said. "Also to try to use a little bit of camp and work on being ready to go when the games start as opposed to necessarily the first day of training camp.

"I feel great. It sounds kind of funny when you skate the first day and don't finish it, but I do."

Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 7:39 PM

By Ben Raby - Correspondent / - Super Saturday

Caps Camp: Baltimore trip holds memories for Boudreau

The Capitals will travel up I-95 Tuesday when they open the preseason against the Nashville Predators as part of the Baltimore Hockey Classic. The Caps last played in Charm City in 1992.

"It's unique that we're sold out for every [home] game this year," Caps general manager George McPhee said, "and now we can go up to Baltimore for a Tuesday night preseason against a non-conference team and sell that building out."

More than 11,000 fans are expected at Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena, which housed the American Hockey League's Skipjacks from 1982-93 and later the AHL's Bandits from 1995-97.

Tuesday's game is sure to bring back memories for both Predators coach Barry Trotz and Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau. Trotz was the coach in Baltimore in 1992-93 when the Skipjacks were a Capitals affiliate and Boudreau played for a Skipjacks team that reached the 1985 Calder Cup final.

"We went to the finals and we lost against a guy by the name of Patrick Roy," Boudreau recalled on the first day of Capitals training camp.

"The team in Sherbrooke that beat us, I think nine of those guys ended up graduating to the Canadiens the next year and won the Stanley Cup, so there were a lot of good Montreal Canadiens that beat us the last year I played there."

Boudreau remembers the Skipjacks drawing crowds of 5,000 on their championship run, which were "adequate at the time for the American League."

Among Boudreau's teammates in Baltimore were future NHLers Andy Brickley, Marty McSorley, Phil Bourque, Bob Errey and John Casey. 

Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 6:11 PM

By Lindsay Kramer - Correspondent / - Super Saturday

Sabres Camp: Boyes back in comfort zone

BUFFALO -- Buffalo finally got to see the real Brad Boyes on Saturday -- or, at least how he'd define that term.

Boyes was back at his natural position of right wing, skating with Jochen Hecht and Matt Ellis. After the Sabres acquired him from St. Louis last season, injuries to Derek Roy and Hecht forced Buffalo to try Boyes at the much less familiar position of center. He contributed five goals and nine assists in 21 games.

Boyes stressed versatility over personal preference, but sounded like he's leaning right.

"I got pretty comfortable on the wing (previously). Moving to the middle changes your mindset. I'm looking forward to getting back,'' he said. "I'm not worried at all where I play. If they want me to play middle all season, I have no problem with that -- or vice versa."
Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 6:05 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - Super Saturday

Ducks Camp: Trio of Ducks limited by injuries

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky is slightly limited with his shoulder but he said it feels better after a summer of rest.

Visnovsky badly injured the right shoulder April 2 against San Jose (he also injured his other shoulder by the end of the season) but surgery wasn't needed.

"It's better and better every day," Visnovsky said.

Visnovsky's defensive partner, Toni Lydman, underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum after the season and has not been cleared for contact.

Forward Matt Beleskey underwent the same procedure and is also wearing a no-contact red jersey.

"We're going to be extra cautious with those players coming back," coach Randy Carlyle said. "Beleskey is further along than Lydman, and Beleskey is very close."
Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:59 PM

By Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent / - Super Saturday

Avalanche Camp: Goalies steal the show in Colorado

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Overall, Avalanche coach Joe Sacco was pleased with what he saw Saturday while watching the team's first day of camp from a perch above the ice.
"I was impressed," he said. "I saw depth in today's scrimmages. I saw good, competitive games out there. I thought, looking up and down the roster, there weren't a lot of negative things. I liked the pace. Certainly you can see the depth in the organization; it showed out there on the ice today."
Sacco also liked what he saw of the five goalies who took part in scrimmages. That would include newcomers Semyon Varlamov, who signed a three-year, $8.5 million contract following his July 1 acquisition from Washington, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who signed a two-year, $2.5 million deal as a free agent.

The Avalanche is counting on the duo to fill what was a gaping hole in goal a year ago when the team allowed a NHL-worst 288 goals and finished No. 29 in the League standings.

"I thought the goalies were good, especially in games like this," Sacco said. "There are a lot of breakdowns and scoring chances. Guys are trying to show what they can do with the puck, so there were some mistakes and some turnovers."

Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:54 PM

By Ben Raby - Correspondent / - Super Saturday

Capitals Camp: Hamrlik held back as precaution

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Free agent signee Roman Hamrlik did not complete the Capitals' mandatory conditioning test on the first day of training camp because of tightness in his groin.

"I wanted to be safe," Hamrlik said. "It was a hard practice and I had some tightness in my groin. It was a good move by Bruce."

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said he was being "overly cautious" with his 38-year-old defenseman, who did take part in practic

"I just said ‘Hey listen, I don't want you to do this,'" Boudreau said of his conversation with Hamrlik. ‘"Let's be precautionary. We'll do the test in a week when you feel better.'"

Hamrlik arrived in D.C. on Wednesday after spending the first two weeks of September skating with his former teammates in Montreal.

"When you get older everything is harder for you," he said. "I have a few weeks to get in better shape and be ready for the season."

Hamrlik has proven durable during his career, appearing in at least 75 games in each of the past five seasons. He was also a minutes-eater in Montreal and led the Canadiens in time on ice last season.

"I wanted to make sure that - on his first day out with us - that he wasn't trying to be overly brave and do something," Boudreau said. "Once he said, they're a little tight, I said, 'OK, fine, shut it down.' "

Hamrlik plans to return to practice tomorrow.
Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:53 PM

By Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent / - Super Saturday

Avalanche Camp: Goal by Elliott among highlights of Avs first day

CENTENNIAL, Colo. Stefan Elliott, one of the Avalanche's prized prospects, scored a goal in Saturday's second scrimmage with a wicked wrist shot from high in the right faceoff circle.
"Me being slated as an offensive defenseman, you're expected to put up numbers," he said. "It was nice that I scored today."
Elliott, 20, should be used to raising his arms in celebration after a goal. He was named the Western Hockey League's Defenseman of the Year last season after collecting 31 goals and 81 points in 71 games for the Saskatoon Blades.
A second-round pick (No. 49) in the 2009 Entry Draft (behind Avalanche centers Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly), Elliott completed his junior career as the highest-scoring defenseman in Blades history with 241 points (82 goals, 159 assists) in 282 games.
"He's very skilled," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "He's very good with the puck and he has a really good, quick shot – a nice, quick snap shot – a good release of the puck. He has high-end skill. I thought as the games went on with him he started to get more comfortable. You could see the confidence. He was rushing the puck up ice and joining in the attack – all the things that he does well as a young player."

This is Elliott's third camp, and he wants to make the most of it, knowing there appears to be an opening for an offensive defenseman following the June trade of John-Michael Liles to Toronto. 
"I felt pretty good, first day," he said. "I was sucking wind a little bit in the first scrimmage, but the second one I started to get a little more comfortable as it went on. I remember my first camp, I was pretty nervous in practices and things. I think now you just kind of settle down and just worry about playing.
"My expectations are higher than in my first camp coming in. Obviously I want to make the team this year. I want to play my best and see how things go. There's a lot of good competition, and that makes for a lot of hard battles."

Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:49 PM

By Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent / - Super Saturday

Avalanche Camp: Cumiskey happy to be back on ice

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Head and neck injuries limited Kyle Cumiskey to just 18 games a year ago, but the speedy defenseman is healthy again and took part in Saturday's scrimmages.

Cumiskey missed the final 29 games with whiplash after sitting out 34 earlier games with a head injury.
The Avalanche is all too familiar with head ailments. Left wing Peter Mueller, who looked good while scrimmaging Saturday, missed all last season to recover from post-concussion syndrome, and 2010 first-round pick Joey Hishon remains sidelined with the same issue after getting hurt in the opening game of the Memorial Cup playoffs last spring.
"It's always tough," Cumiskey said of missing games. "You're sitting there and waiting and thinking about it all day. So it's awesome to be back out here again. I'm excited about it.
"I guess as players we have to respect each other a little more and watch the hits to the head. I'm just trying to protect myself a little more and be smarter that way."
Cumiskey was able to resume skating in May, about a month after the Avalanche missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A restricted free agent, he wasn't signed until Sept. 9 when he agreed to a one-year, $708,000 contract.
"I've been working out all summer and feeling good," he said. "I'm not really worried about (getting hurt again) or thinking about it. It's one of those things that you can't worry about or else you won't play your game.

"It was good to be out there again with the guys. I got to camp a little late so I didn't have a lot of time to skate with them before."
Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:49 PM

By Ben Raby - Correspondent / - Super Saturday

Capitals Camp: Poti fails physical; Wideman, Green healthy

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Capitals general manager George McPhee confirmed on Day One of training that defenseman Tom Poti did not pass his physical. The 34-year-old remains sidelined with a groin injury that limited him to just 21 games last season. Poti will begin the year on long-term injured reserve.

"He failed the medical but we'll try a different program to see if we can get him back to a hundred percent," McPhee said. "He's worked really hard in trying to get ready and he's still unable to do it. We'll see if the new program works. If he can play at some point this year, he would help us a lot."

McPhee did not elaborate on the new program, but said that it would not include surgery. Poti's inability to begin the season comes as no big shock after McPhee suggested at last year's exit meetings that the defenseman's career "could be in jeopardy."

"I was concerned whether he'd be able to play again," McPhee said. "It's why we went out and signed [Roman] Hamrlik. We didn't want to be short. Unfortunately, he's no further along."

If Poti is indeed placed on LTIR, it will relieve the Capitals of his $2.875 million salary cap hit. Poti signed a two-year extension during last year's training camp that is for this campaign and next. He was not made available for comment.

"I met with him yesterday and he's certainly frustrated and we're disappointed because he's a good player," McPhee said. "He played very good hockey and made us better."

While Poti remains sidelined, other Washington defensemen are chomping at the bit to return from their own injuries.

Dennis Wideman missed the final five games of the regular-season and all of the playoffs with a leg hematoma. Wideman now sports a six-inch scar above his knee but the 28-year-old says he's good to suit up in the pre-season.

"As far as the practice went, I felt pretty good," Wideman said. "When we got to the conditioning I felt like I was a little bit behind where I would like to be at this point. But the good news is we still have a couple more weeks… As far as strength and skating go, I'm 100 percent."

Wideman was acquired from the Panthers at last year's trade deadline, but the offensive-minded defenseman never had the chance to play with Mike Green.

Green missed the final 19 games of the regular-season with a concussion and Game 4 of the Capitals second round series against Tampa Bay with a hip flexor.

The two-time Norris Trophy nominee had an off-year by his standards with eight goals and 24 points -- his lowest totals since he was a rookie in 2006-07.

But with Wideman and Green both healthy, and John Carlson set to begin his second full NHL season, expectations are high for the Capitals' puck-moving defensemen.
Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:48 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Super Saturday

Blackhawks Camp: Prospect Morin misses opening of camp

A week after traveling but not playing with the Blackhawks' team in the prospects tournament held in Oshawa, forward Jeremy Morin (concussion) is still not healthy enough to get back on the ice for a game.

Saturday marked the opening of training camp for the Hawks and Morin, 20, was noticeably absent in scrimmages. In fact, he's been sidelined since last January, when he was hurt playing for the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

Morin was a second-round pick by the Atlanta Thrashers (No.45) in the 2009 Entry Draft and came to Chicago as a key part of a deal that sent former Hawks star Dustin Byfuglien and several others to Atlanta.

Morin, a right wing with a knack for offense, made a good first impression at Chicago's prospects camp last summer. He then opened eyes in the Hawks' training camp last year before nearly opening the season with the team. He eventually played nine games with Chicago before heading to the World Junior Championships – where he suffered a shoulder injury.

It wasn't long after that his season was cut short by the concussion, which is believed to have happened after being flipped on his head, helmet on, after a hard check.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Morin's status is "day-to-day."
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