LIVE BLOG: TEAM CANADA'S RED vs. WHITE SCRIMMAGE
08.27.2009 / 9:00 PM ET
The Red team won the shootout, 6-2, as Fleury stoned 10 of 12 shooters while Mason gave up six goals against 12 guys, including four goals in the first six attempts he faced.
Fleury was beaten only by his Pittsburgh teammate, Crosby, who later said he was happy that he got him with a high shot because he knew Fleury wasn't expecting it. St. Louis also got the better of Fleury. However, the Penguins goalie stopped Iginla, Toews, Roy, Nash, Perry, Spezza, Smyth, Lecavalier, Sharp and Eric Staal, who hit the post.
Mason didn't fare as well. Marleau beat him on the first attempt he faced and after he stopped Thornton, Heatley, who was booed soundly until he scored, and Morrow beat Mason. Richards couldn't, but Carter could. Lucic and McDonald went out with a thud, but Cleary got the better of Mason. Jordan Staal did not, but Doan did. Burns, the only defenseman to go in the shootout, was stopped. He was the last shooter of the night.
So, the Red team won the game, 3-2, by way of the shootout.
Synopsis: So the game ends in a 2-2 tie, but it hardly looked even. Red outshot White, 42-22. Some players (Crosby, Nash, Pronger, Doughty, Carter, Richards, Morrow, Jordan Staal, Bouwmeester, Weber, Keith) stood out to me. Brodeur and Luongo definitely looked like the 1 and 1A goalies. Overall it was a spirited, competitive, up tempo scrimmage. That's exactly what Babcock and the boys wanted. Now every forward is going to compete in a shootout. I'll have the results for you in one blog form later, but now I have to get downstairs so I don't miss Babcock's press conference.
19:50: Eric Staal beat Keith down the ice for a loose puck, but Keith raced back and took the puck right away from Staal with a brilliant poke check.
18:20: St. Louis on a short-handed breakaway, stoned by Fleury with a kick save.
17:43: Penalty for holding on Lecavalier gives Red a chance to win it on the power play. The shots, by the way, are 42-21 in favor of Red.
17:05: Mason just made three saves in a row with Red buzzing his net for the go-ahead goal.
15:55: Great kick save by Mason on Carter to keep it tied at 2-2. The young goalie looks way more comfortable now than he did at the start of the period.
15:25: The more and more I watch Drew Doughty, the more and more I like his chances for this team. He seems like such a long shot, but he's playing very well tonight.
14:31: Marleau and Thornton, a pair of scorned Sharks this summer, just hooked up on what appeared to be a pretty goal, but Thornton definitely made a distinct kicking motion as he drove to the net. Really, it's not even close. The refs just waved it off.
13:20: How perceptive am I? I just noticed Babcock is now behind White's bench. I don't know when he switched, but he did. It's not surprising. He wants a feel of everybody that's going out for this team.
12:30: They just announced tonight is a SELLOUT with 19,289 in attendance. I do see some empty seats, but not many at all.
10:59: What was that I just said about Perry? Bad night? Scratch that. He just had a pretty wraparound power play GOAL FOR WHITE, getting between Weber and the left post before wrapping it into the net. Entering the final 10 minutes it's a 2-2 game. Let's see if the hitting picks up even a little as the teams now want to win the game.
10:04: It's a power play for White now as Lucic is in the box for tripping Hamhuis.
9:10: It's interesting now to see Nash and Crosby killing the penalty with Phaneuf and Doughty.
8:03: Red is going on the power play as Corey Perry is going off for goalie interference. It has not been a good night for the Ducks forward, but that doesn't mean he has played himself out of consideration. Remember, he plays with Ryan Getzlaf during the regular season and Getzlaf is considered a lock for this roster.
6:48: Mason nearly just had a huge blunder. He came out way above the circle and tried to pass the puck across the ice, but Morrow got in the way. Fortunately for Mason and Team White, the puck scurried off of Morrow's stick.
5:45: Power play for White. Jordan Staal is in the box for holding.
5:15: Some of the defensive pairs for White also changed. Seabrook and Doughty have swapped Flames' defenders. Seabrook is now with Regehr instead of Phaneuf. Doughty is playing with Phaneuf instead of Regehr. Pronger and Boyle are still together. That could be a sign of the future, perhaps. So, too, are Robidas and Hamhuis.
3:15: Ryan Smyth is with Perry and Spezza. So, Smyth, St. Louis, Iginla and Staal all changed lines for the White team. Nash and Crosby, Toews and Roy, Perry and Spezza and Lecavalier and Sharp all stayed together. Red is tougher to go by because they have only 11 forwards.
1:55: St. Louis has moved onto the line with Crosby and Nash. He practiced there yesterday. Don't worry Calgary fans, Iginla is likely secure for a roster spot on this team. They are just trying some different things out now.
1:05: Eric Staal is with Lecavalier and Sharp right now, supplanting Smyth on that line. I bet they start trying some new stuff out now. White needs a change. They are getting badly outshot and outplayed in this scrimmage.
0:00: Mason is in net for the White squad right now. Fleury will start for Red. I'm starting to wonder where Jarome Iginla has been all night. He has been very quiet, though I've liked the play of his linemates, Crosby and Nash. I also think Pronger has looked good and Green has been OK as well. Cleary has stood out at times and Doughty looks very comfortable. Carter and Richards have been very noticeable, too.
Synopsis: So, they scratched the special teams format we expected in this period and just played it out. It was worth watching as there were three goals scored on a combined 19 shots. Still, the White team is having a problem getting the offense going. Red is outshooting White, 30-14, and fittingly holds a 2-1 lead.
18:06: Seabrook either just skated into a rut or an invisible wall because he toppled like a house of cards in White's defensive zone, lost the puck and Marleau swooped in and with a wrist shot from the high slot beat Ward for a GOAL BY RED. I really have no clue what happened to Seabrook, but he will definitely be taking some shots for that in the locker room between periods. It's 2-1 Red.
16:45: Fleury has handled the puck a few times, but it's been nearly seven minutes and he hasn't faced a shot yet. It's 28-12 in favor of Red, but the score remains 1-1.
14:30: All three Staal brothers are on the ice right now. I think it's the first time they have all been out there together tonight. Somewhere in Thunder Bay, Henry and Linda Staal are proud.
12:00: Crosby goes off for hooking, and now Red is on the power play with Thornton, Marleau, Heatley, Burns and Bouwmeester, though Weber just came on for the newest Flame. Green, Carter, Richards and Morrow just joined him.
11:30: Doughty and Phaneuf are the defensemen on White's power play along with Nash, Crosby and Iginla. It's good to see Doughty get some power play time with this group of players. He's earned it.
9:58: And, that'll do it for Brodeur. He leaves with 11 saves against 12 shots and to a round of applause. He is still Canada's goalie. Marc-Andre Fleury is between the pipes for Red now, but he is greeted by a power play for White as Bouwmeester is sitting in the box interference.
9:00: Jordan Staal just tripped Pronger from behind away from the puck by accident. As he got up he made sure Pronger was OK, and he was. Just imagine if this was a real game. Staal would have fear in his eyes and Pronger would have ferocity in those elbows.
8:15: Heatley just carried the puck a little and got booed. He is from Calgary, but apparently there are some Oilers and/or Sens fans in the building.
6:17: Carter shifted to center to take the in-zone faceoff and he winds up with GOAL FOR RED. The puck was loose in front. Richards was on his right side with I think Morrow on his left. Richards was centering that line in the first period. It's 1-1 and the shots are 24-9 in favor of Red.
5:50: We're back at even strength and the Nash-Crosby-Iginla line is back out there. It's a joy to watch those guys play together.
4:49: McDonald, Doan, Cleary, M. Staal and Beauchemin are on the PP for Red now. Lecavalier, Smyth, Robidas and Hamhuis are killing for White.
3:04: It's a power play for Team Red as Corey Perry goes off for tripping. Thornton, Marleau, Heatley, Green and Bouwmeester are on the power play. Holy cow, Green and Bouwmeester are on the same PP unit. Scary. St. Louis, Morrow, Seabrook and Phaneuf are killing right now.
2:44: Ward just came up with his first beauty of the night. Weber batted the puck out of the air with his stick and it was targeted for the goal, but Ward got his blocker out there and was able to save it. The puck somehow got into the air off of Carter's stick or skates or something. Not sure what. Weber had the presence of mind to whack it, but Ward was there.
1:35: And, we have a GOAL FOR WHITE. Ryan Smyth gets it after a bad giveaway in the other end by Marleau. Smyth had Marc Staal on a string and he fired a low shot that look as if it hit Staal's stick and then it cruised by Brodeur. It's the ninth shot for White, but they lead, 1-0.
0:00: Brodeur is still in net for Red. They have only two goalies and I bet Fleury comes in at the 10-minute mark of this period. Ward is in net for the White squad. Right now it's still 5-on-5. Go figure.
Synopsis: Good, solid start to the scrimmage. The Red team had the better of play in the 5-on-5 period, owning a 17-7 advantage in shots. Luongo stood on his head, but his neighbor from St. Leonard on the end did a fine job as well, especially right there at the very end with his dazzling save on Spezza. It appears the guys are definitely trying to push the pace, which is what Mike Babcock wants to see. There is nobody floating around the ice, and that's important. Good pace. I'm now curious to see how the special teams stack up in the second period.
20:00: Just before time expired, Brodeur made the save of the night, at least so far. Iginla got the puck in the left circle and fed it cross crease to Spezza, who tried to one-touch it into the open net. Brodeur raced across in time and got his glove out to bat it out of the air. As the buzzer sounded, it appeared as though he shared a smile and a laugh with Niedermayer. Those two have done that before.
19:17: And, we have our first big hit of the night. Nash got around Niedermayer and tried to get to the front of the net. After releasing the puck he buried Morrow. Both were right in front of Brodeur. The hit brought a nice roar from the crowd. Nash, of course, made sure both Morrow and Brodeur were alright, and they were.
18:36: We've got our first penalty of the game and it's on Jordan Staal for goalie interference. After shooting on Luongo he got a little too close to the Canucks goalie and ran him over. Richards and Carter are killing with Staal and Beauchemin for Red. Nash, Crosby and Iginla are with Pronger and Boyle on the first PP unit for White.
16:05: As is normally the case for Brodeur, the Devils goalie is not seeing much action. Still only five shots for White while the Red squad has put 14 on Luongo.
13:40: Another great scoring chance for Red, but this time Cleary, who is playing his way into the hearts and minds of Canadian fans by the way, hit the post after Carter set him up. And, yes, it was definitely Cleary. I made sure of it this time. See, I'm learning.
11:37: OK, both Cleary and Jordan Staal are wearing No. 11 for Red. This could get confusing. I think it was Cleary who Luongo stoned, but it might have been Staal. Ahhhh! Mike Richards and Marc Staal are both wearing 18 for Red as well. Wait, Doan and Thornton have on No. 19. Oh, Lucic and Carter have No. 17. Only the goalies, Mason and Luongo, are wearing similar No. 1 jerseys for White. That should be easier.
10:57: The puck bounced free and the Red squad was able to get a scoring chance, but Luongo came way out of his net to close down Cleary's shooting lane. He made the save, held on, and now we have a break in the action. The shots are 11-5 now in favor of the Red squad. Luongo talked to me yesterday about the goalies not getting a lot of work in this camp. He's getting plenty right now.
8:09: There is a real smart pace to this game right now. It's not quite like what you would see in the regular season, and we can't expect that, but it is pretty fast. Put it this way, it doesn't feel like August.
5:49: Brodeur just stoned Crosby, who raced into the left circle and fired a wrist shot targeted for the top right corner. Brodeur ripped it out of the air with his glove. It's been the goalies show so far.
5:00: Since Team Red is down a forward (Gagne), they are trying to rotate through 11. That's why Cleary is on a line right now with Heatley and Thornton.
4:10: Brodeur just answered on the other end with a great stop on Toews, who tried to feather a backhand from the slot. Brodeur got turned around on the play, but he made the save and Red broke out. The shots are 4-4 and the goalies are the stars right now. The game is crisp, but a little disjointed.
3:32: Great speed by Lucic to get a 2-on-1 with Carter. Doughty was the guy back, but he couldn't stop the break. Luongo made another great save. It's been a good start for the Canucks goalie, who has three dazzling saves, including two on Carter.
2:40: Just to let you know, Babcock and Lemaire are coaching the Red team while Ruff and Hitchcock are on the White team bench.
1:04: Luongo just made a nother crucial stop on Jeff Carter.
0:45: First big save of the night made by Luongo on Richards, who redirected a pass as he darted to the front of the net.
White's starters are Crosby with Nash and Iginla along with Pronger and Boyle. Luongo is in net. For the Red squad, it's Thornton with Marleau and Heatley. Niedermayer and Weber are on the backend and Brodeur is in net.
A playoff-type welcome
The atmosphere doesn't quite befit a playoff game, but it's darn close. The boys are on the ice now and we're ready to finally get this thing going.
Remember, first period will be only 5-on-5 play. The teams will each get 10 minutes of power play and 10 minutes of penalty kill in the second period. The third is broken up into halves of 5-on-5 and 4-on-4, respectively. After all that is a shootout. I believe every player is taking part in it.
Get a load of this guy
Good crowd here with some crazy guy dancing with his Team Canada jersey on. He just ripped it off and, oh man, he's got a microphone. Uh oh. The spotlight is on him. To be honest, I have no idea who he is, but he was dancing to Eye of the Tiger.
I feel like I'm in Rocky IV. Awesome.
Oh, wait, now we got a little C and C Music Factory going on. He's rockin' out.
They just turned the lights off in the press box. I do not know why, but the arena lights are still on. Need I remind you that this is a scrimmage? Unreal.
The lights in the arena are off now and four officials just skated onto the ice. There should be a good roar when the boys emerge from the dressing rooms. They are playing old Team Canada highlights on the big screen now.
Yes, it's a scrimmage in August. I can't stress enough how crazy this is. This is what makes hockey in this country so great.
Time for the Zambonis
08.27.2009 / 8:53 PM ET
The players are all off the ice now with Ryan Smyth, Captain Canada himself, being the last to exit. Smyth, man, the guy just can't get enough ice. It's pretty ridiculous. I would bet he would like to turn his home in L.A. into a rink so he could eat, sleep and watch TV on ice.
The countdown clock is on, in the 18th minute now, and we're getting closer to the world's most important scrimmage.
Warmups are underway
08.27.2009 / 8:38 PM ET
Boy that sounds odd to say in August, but it's true. Team White just hit the ice and here comes the Red group led by Martin Brodeur. The fans are scattered in the building now, but I'm told there will be 16,000 or so here and they all paid to get in.
These new Team Canada unis are quite smooth. Ilike the red jerseys better than the white ones, but they are nice.
I don't see any letters on sweaters, so there will be no reading into that tonight.
Sidney Crosby, who for some reason was wearing No. 37 during the first three days in camp, is back to wearing his customary 87.
In the building
08.27.2009 / 7:45 PM ET
I just got up to the press box here at the Saddledome and I am the only one up here right now. The stands are all empty, but fans will be filling the seats shortly just as many of my media cohorts will be planting their butts in the seats up here within the next hour or so.
As I was heading out of my hotel today, waiting for a cab at the front entrance, one of the bell hops was telling me that this city has been buzzing about this game for quite some time. Folks, it's a scrimmage in August, and it's the hottest ticket in town. Amazing!
Stick with me for all the action. I will be live blogging tonight and hope to not miss a thing. Of course, since this is real time and so is the game, I will undoubtedly miss something. I don't think there will be an easily accessible instant replay either, and for those of you who read my Armchair Power Play blog during the Stanley Cup Final you know that instant replay was my best friend.
Either way, I'm going to do as the players do tonight; I will give my best and hope to make an impression.
See ya near puck-drop time, which is in about 80 or so minutes.
The Most Important Scrimmage in the World
08.27.2009 / 4:50 PM ET
Tonight's scrimmage has meaning to everyone in the building.
For the players, it's a chance to leave a lasting impression on Hockey Canada's executives here and the coaching staff. For the coaches, led by Mike Babcock, it's a chance to see if the players can apply what they practiced all week into a game-like setting. For Steve Yzerman and his staff it's an opportunity to see if there is chemistry among the players.
Wait, there's more.
For the fans, it's their first chance to see Team Canada's hopefuls live in living color. For the staffers here at the Pengrowth Saddledome, it's their chance to sell some merchandise and concessions in August. And, of course, for us in the media it's our chance to critique the players and coaches, something we all love doing so much.
So, yes, it's only a scrimmage but there is a playoff-type atmosphere here in Calgary tonight.
Although Mike Babcock has been telling us all week not to read into the lines and defensive pairings, Hockey Canada issued sheets of paper to the media here detailing what the lines will be tonight.
As has been the case all week, Rick Nash will play on Sidney Crosby's left side. Jarome Iginla is on the right side of that line, which could very well be the Canadians top line in Vancouver.
Mike Richards is centering Brenden Morrow and Jeff Carter. Two-hundred foot players they all are.
Milan Lucic, Andy McDonald and Dan Cleary are together. Am I alone in thinking that could be Canada's fourth line at the Olympics?
Scott Niedermayer will be paired with Shea Weber, a formidable blend of grace and power that might capture the hearts and minds of all Canadian fans in Vancouver. Duncan Keith is with Mike Green. Talk about a risk and reward pair.
Dion Phaneuf is with Brent Seabrook, but those two might have to hold back a little. The rough stuff isn't frowned upon tonight, but not exactly mandated either.
Here are the full lines and defensive pairings:
Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Dany Heatley
Brenden Morrow-Mike Richards-Jeff Carter
Milan Lucic-Andy McDonald-Dan Cleary
Jordan Staal-Shane Doan
Scott Niedermayer-Shea Weber
Jay Bouwmeester-Brent Burns
Duncan Keith-Mike Green
Francois Beauchemin-Marc Staal
Rick Nash-Sidney Crosby-Jarome Iginla
Derek Roy-Jonathan Toews-Martin St. Louis
Eric Staal-Jason Spezza-Corey Perry
Ryan Smyth-Vincent Lecavalier-Patrick Sharp
Chris Pronger-Dan Boyle
Robyn Regehr-Drew Doughty
Dion Phaneuf-Mike Green
Dan Hamhuis-Stephane Robidas
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org