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by Jeremy Zager / Los Angeles Kings
Kings assistant coach Jamie Kompon speaks with Oscar Moller during forwards practice during Development Camp.
“Comfortable.” That was the central theme for Day 3 of Development Camp. The first day most of the players seemed a little nervous. The second day was a little more relaxed. And now the cob webs have been shaken and it’s business as usual.

So now that comfort has set it in, it’s time to pick up the pace. And that’s exactly what happened today. All three morning sessions were a lot quicker…and the drills looked a lot tougher.

The goaltenders started things off, again working on position and technique. Up down, up down. Side to side, side to side. Left to right. Right to left. (No, there was no “wax on, wax off.” I know everyone was thinking that.) While movement was again key for the net minders, they also had to practice making some acrobatic saves. The coaches were setting each other up with point-blank one-timers and the goaltenders had to quickly maneuver. I know all three goaltenders (Bernier, Zatkoff and Rowat) are young guys, but they looked like seasoned vets out there today.

Next came the forwards. Yesterday it was all about driving to the net and looking for a play. Today was the hard work though: fore-checking along the half boards and working the puck out of the corners. I like to call this the “Alexander Frolov Drill.” Definitely a great role model for these kids, especially for this drill. I overheard a few of the scouts commenting on Florian Busch, who played last season with the Berlin Polar Bears of the German Elite League. He’s one of the older prospects in camp (23 years old) and has great hands! No Bryan Cameron sighting yet, as he’s still sick.

The defensemen closed out the morning session. And it seemed like they had the toughest drill of all. Two rectangular pylons were spread out on the ice: one in front of the net and the other just outside the faceoff circles. The D-men would grab a pass, skate just in front of the first pylon and have to shoot the puck into the net. Not the easiest thing to do when you have two long pylons staring right at you. This drill was of course to teach the defensemen to get their shots on net, avoiding the opposition’s blocking attempt. If that wasn’t hard enough, Kings assistant coach Dave Lewis made it even tougher. Before shooting the puck each player had to look over at Lewis and recite (out loud) how many fingers he was holding up. Those poor kids.

Nothing new to really report from the afternoon practice. Another solid effort out there. Looked like the squad worked the same drills. A lot of skating, two-on-one, two-on-twos, etc. Things are definitely looking a lot crisper out there. Again that goes with everyone feeling more comfortable.

The Purple Group is getting a nice little treat tonight. All the players are going to Chavez Ravine to watch the Dodgers-Marlins game. Not a bad way to spend a Thursday night in LA. The bus is supposed to leave the TSC for Dodger Stadium at 5:30.

Here were the comments from Day 3:

Dave Lewis – Kings Assistant Coach
(on the players’ progression)
“The first day you could tell the guys were nervous. The second day they were more at ease and today they’re even more comfortable. Right now we want to watch them to do everything under control. Once they understand the technique of everything then they can speed things up. We’re trying to ingrain in them that understanding what they’re doing out there is more important than speed at this time.”

(on the defenseman drill with the pylons)

“It was a tough drill. But what it does is get them to be aware of the ice. We want them to be aware of the situation and what’s going on. When they have the puck, they have control of the game.”

(on the players’ attitude)
“These guys are working so hard. You see them in the weight room, you see them on the ice. They have a lot to do everyday. They have video twice a day, they’re on the ice twice a day. And they have an off-ice workout in between. But everyone has been great.”

(on the players having fun)
“They’re enjoying it for sure. This is the first time for a lot of the guys to work with both NHL and AHL coaches at this great facility. And they’re taking everything in and learning, but having fun too. And they get to go to the Dodger game tonight, so I’m sure they’ll love that as well."

Hubie McDonough – Manchester Monarchs Director of Hockey Operations
(on his experiences with the players in camp)
“I’ve been mainly working with the forwards and everyone has been great, really attentive. They want to learn. They’re paying attention and asking questions. They come out and do the things they’re supposed to do and getting to know each other a little better. If a guy falls down or makes a mistake, they have a little fun with each other about it. Everyone is having a good time, which is important.”

(on the players rooting for each other)
“It’s great to see. You can especially see it in the afternoon session, which is more intense. The players will tap each other on the back after someone makes a nice play. And if they’re battling hard and if someone maybe knocks another guy down, they’ll tap each other on the pads after the play.”

(on the afternoon session vs. morning session)
“We try to pace them because we know the afternoon will be tougher. And especially in the morning we’re stressing quality over quantity. You don’t have to do all the drills at 100 percent. Sometimes you can go at 50 percent, sometimes 75 percent. It’s just to get the technique down that’s most important.”

Josh Meyers – Kings seventh round pick (206th overall) in 2005 NHL Entry Draft:
(on his experience so far)
“I’m having a lot of fun. I’m just trying to take in all the information and put it to good use. On and off the ice everyone is starting to come together as a group. You don’t feel any pressure anymore…I just want to make sure I have my head up, so I can read the play and situation.”

Jeff Zatkoff – Kings third round pick (74th overall) in 2006 NHL Entry Draft:
(on his third year in camp)
“I definitely know what to expect with this being my third year. It’s such a great experience working with Bill Ranford and the rest of the coaches. They do a great job working with all the goaltenders, catering to the way each one plays.”
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