The Off Wing

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Archive for the tag “Matt Benning”

2014 Edition: Development Camp…Day Two

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So when last we met the kids at camp had finished their first day and while some appeared a little gassed, others left the impression that they had been here before and seemed like they hadn’t even broken a sweat.  Rob O’Gara, for one, looks like he’s out on a leisurely stroll, no sweat, not even the appearance of heavy breathing.  Development Camp…Day Two brought us more drills and two sessions that ran almost to 2:00 in the afternoon.  This was a better day fitness-wise, as none of those present gave the impression of exhaustion, although the long day must have gotten to some.

We learned some new things about the B’s hopefuls…things such as Anton Blidh, while fast and well-balanced on his skates, he needs to work on putting the puck on net.  He stayed extra time after the official drills ended working on his shooting.  Anton fired shot after shot at the net, hitting everything but the twine.  Taking a line from one of my favorite movies; “Always end on a good shot, I say”, and Anton did just that, scoring and skating off the ice.

The morning session started before it officially began when Malcolm Subban, Zane Gothberg, Matt Benning, Anders Bjork and Alex Globke came out ahead of the full class to work on goaltending drills with Bob Essensa.  Primarily working on post to post coverage, the two young netminders (Subban, Gothberg) were down on their knees stopping pucks shot from the bottom of the circles and in the slot.  The two were also working on post coverage, staying tight to the post through the whole save process before moving to the opposite post to field another shot.

Couple of notables:

Matt Benning has really stepped up his game.  He has shown better vision on the ice and his passing is much more crisp than it has been at prior camps.  Outlet passing has been tape-to-tape sharp.

Rob O’Gara has shown leadership skills on the ice, calling out plays while running drills where the defensive unit is setting up to cover an oncoming rush.  Instructing the younger campers on who to cover as they enter the offensive zone and where to direct the puck once the defense has gained possession.

Cole Bardreau has shown that he has speed and quickness.  His acceleration and balance are strong.  His speed through the neutral zone is good, but his best asset are his hands, very soft and strong, crisp passing.  Would like to see a little more shooting from the young man.

Colton Hargrove appeared to be getting a little “cute” with his stickhandling while trying to gain entry into the offensive zone during drills.  Once he started gaining entry into the zone without all the puckhandling he was more successful.  He also scored a nice goal on his former teammate, Gothberg.

Speaking of former teammates, Oleg Yevenko has shown that he isn’t just a big body on the ice.  He displayed some solid positioning while working the two-on-two drills and was able to keep the puck and skater away from the slot area of the ice.  Oleg may need to work on his skating and work along the boards, but there are some fundamentals in place that can be worked with, a good foundation to build from.

Billy Sweezey has shown that he belongs on the ice.  Being the third youngest at camp, Billy has held his own and doesn’t shy away from the contact, something that will surely not go unnoticed by Cam, Claude, Donnie and Peter up in the stands.  The young man is committed to Yale, where he will be joining Michael Doherty and Rob O’Gara.  Just a side note here.  I witnessed Billy after the second session talking to a young boy, giving him a puck and autograph as well as taking pictures with the youngster.  He seems to have the makeup of someone who others can look up to…giving back to others.

Wiley Sherman displayed some nice positioning on defense, standing up multiple attempts at entry to the offensive zone for a few of the campers.  Doesn’t appear to be overly physical, just doing his job shutting down the rush.  Good footwork kept him in front of multiple attackers, and when they did get by, he didn’t give up on the play.

There were some interesting drills at the end of day two, with players both clogging the slot area while others were positioned in the corners and at the points.  Working on jockeying for position in front of the netminders, things were getting a little more physical in front of the nets.  Seemed to give the guys on the ice the opportunity to work off a little extra energy before the coaches called it a day, with Oleg Yevenko leading stretches for the second straight session.

One final note:  The young men here are soaking in all the education they can get.  On evidence I present Mitchell Dempsey.  The young man, having finished nearly three hours of rushes and defending, was out there with Kevin Dean, assistant coach in Providence, working on net front presence with regards to tip drills and positioning in front of the net.  The two gentlemen spent an additional 15 minutes or so, with Dean shooting pucks on net from the slot and the corners, so that Dempsey could work on his positions and tipping.  Dean would skate over and give instruction to the young man, who appeared to be soaking up every word that was spoken.  Dedication to his craft is not a concern for the young Mitchell Dempsey.

Well, that’s all for day two.  Day three begins in an hour and a half, so  we’ll see you then…

L.W.L.

2014 Edition: Bruins Development Camp…Day One

Not everything went off exactly as expected on the first day of the 2014 edition of Bruins development camp. Sitting in the crowd, one could sense that the fans were just a little unhappy about the more than one hour late kickoff to this year’s party. But once the campers hit the ice all appeared to be forgiven. Then snag number 2…Malcolm was nowhere to be found. With only two goaltenders in camp this year, it was a little more noticeable than it might have been in years’ past. Again the situation was rectified as Mr. Subban made his fashionably late appearance. By the way, he looks bigger too.

The 2014 edition brings 23 campers to Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass.  Twelve of these young gentlemen have been bere before, with goaltender Zane Gothberg present for his fourth development camp.  He is having a solid, if not somewhat spectacular college career at North Dakota, and the Boston Bruins staff appear more than excited to be patient when it comes to this young man.  Working with Bob (Essensa, goaltending coach), Zane can be seen asking  questions and performing the tasks set to him.  During one drill, Zane’s ability to go post to post showed just how quick he is to cover that blue real estate in front of the net.

The aforementioned Malcolm Subban, the first pick for the Bruins two years ago, made his third appearance at Boston’s annual camp.  Standing tall, he appeared bigger than years prior, however, after researching it, Malcolm is as tall as he was on draft day, potentially an inch larger.  One thing that was noticeable was that he was playing much further out of his crease than in the past, something that he has been knocked for, as he appeared to play a lot deeper in his net, a much riskier way of doing things.

A couple other quick notes before heading off to day two…

The only draft pick not present was 4th rounder Danton Heinen.

There are seven invitees to camp this year, the youngest, Billy Sweezey is still in high school.  The oldest, Oleg Yevenko, is 23 and plays at UMass Amherst.

Speaking of Mr. Yevenko, he is a big man.  6’7″ and 230 pounds (as listed by the Bruins), his body appears to be NHL ready, but that is as far as it goes at the moment.  He would definitely be a project, but as he has been draft eligible since 2009, there may be more work here than any team may want to invest.  Skating and footwork appeared to be issues.  Yevenko struggled in the corner while trying to gain possession of the the puck during  one of the drills.

Matthew Grzelcyk came out of the locker room wearing a red, closer to maroon, jersey.  Unsure as to whether he was “no contact” or just forgot his jersey at home.  He did seem to be in shape this year, as last year he appeared a little on the heavy side.  More to come on Matthew.

Matt Benning…what can I say.  He appears to be improving year to year.  When he first arrived at camp he looked undersized and, dare I say, a little overwhelmed.  Harvard is doing him good and his skating and footwork have vastly improved.

Michael Doherty is a nice invite to camp.  He has good acceleration and good hands.  He plays at Yale with Rob O’Gara, so we will surely see more of him.

Speaking of O’G, he is filling out his frame nicely.  He has become a solid blueliner at Yale and I personally can’t wait to see him in a Bruins uniform.  His awareness is improving and he tracks the action well.  He is tough to get around in drills and is hockey sense seems to be improving as well.

Colton Hargrove…He has been one of my favorites since the day the Bruins drafted him.  He followed up a good freshman year with a solid sophomore effort.  Would not be surprised if Andy Murray hangs a letter on his jersey this year!  Colton has improved year to year at camp.  He doesn’t shy away from contact, sees the ice well and has a scoring touch.  Good footwork and hands round out the package.  More to come on Colton as well.

Ok, off to day two…More later today…

L.W.L.

 

Development Camp…The Defense

Development camp this year had many good players.  Too many to mention in just one post.  So here they are, the guys manning the blue line and the blue area in front of the trapezoid…

Matt Benning – The young man just barely turned 18 before development camp.  Went down a couple times on the first day during practices.  Showed some skills during the second session and the second day.  Appeared to struggle with power skating during the first session on day three.  During the first session on day 4 Matt left the ice with an apparent leg injury.  We later learned that he had a groin issue.  Some seasoning is in order as he is quite young but could prove to be a talent down the road.

Chris Casto – A big boy to be sure, but appeared to need a little toughness.  He seems to be a stay at home defenseman.  Good shot from the point, but it looked like he was getting pushed around at times.  His size is something that can’t be learned, and he has that going for him, but with the size of the other invitees and draft picks at camp, he didn’t overly stand out.

Tommy Cross – The senior member of development camp.   He has attended every one for the last six years.  Tommy has developed into a strong defensive defenseman.  Good skills, positionally sound and knows when to pinch and when to remain at the blue line.  Also has the ability to get physical.  Tommy, in this writer’s opinion, is the most NHL ready of the campers this year.  Not the fastest skater on the ice but he counteracts that with his solid positional play.  Also not the hardest shot, but he keeps it low to the ice and accurate.  He finally scored at a development camp, a fact he pointed out to the press on hand.

Matt Grzelcyk – Boston University has a lot to look forward to with this young man.  Not the strongest shot, but knows when to stay at the blue line and when to pinch.  He was paired up with Dougie for most of the second scrimmage and it gave me cause for worry having two offensive defensemen on the blue line, but Matt covered well when Hammy pinched (which was often).  Good speed and footwork complete the package.  Some seasoning at B.U. will do him good and I am looking forward to seeing him again next year as well.

Dougie Hamilton – Fellow viewers and writers present at Development Camp have already heard my opinion on Dougie.  A very talented young man with size to spare.  Dougie had good offensive skills and is good on the back check.  He has a quick outlet pass to the neutral zone and can catch up to the play with his speed.  All this being said, Dougie is not ready for the NHL yet.  Peter Chiarelli states that Dougie has put on 11 pounds since last year.  He still hasn’t filled out his 6’5″ frame and was being pushed around on the ice.  Dougie also showed his propensity for hot-headedness when he opted to return the favor for a check he received from Daniel Carr.  The hit was perfectly legal, but you could see Dougie planning it in his head from the time he received the initial hit.  Dougie was also caught below the offensive goal line on more than one occasion. He will play for the big club, without a doubt, it just shouldn’t be this year.

Torey Krug – Torey has speed and good hands.   Good defensive skills which showed up when paired with Dougie.  As we all know, Dougie is an offensive defenseman, a good part of Torey’s game as well.  Torey showed the understanding to hang back and patrol the blue line, freeing up Dougie to pinch down low.  Torey’s size could be a hindrance to him as he is only 5’9″ or 10″ but he stayed on his skates for both scrimmages and performed very well in power skating.

Robbie O’Gara – Congratulations Yale…You’ve got a real good defenseman heading your way!  Size, strength, a little speed, likes the contact (or so it appeared), and good positional play.  Robbie was more than willing to clear out the slot area and neutral zones when opposing offensive players were passing through.  I’m sure lacrosse had something to do with that.  He was paired up with Tommy for a bit, and what a “D” pairing that would look like for the Black and Gold in a few years.  Also spent time with Trotman and Grzelcyk.  Take care of this one, Coach Allain, the Bruins are gonna want him back!

Zach Trotman – More size on the blue line.  Zach has a shot that gets through more often than not.  He was paired up with Tommy and Robbie.  With Tommy he manned the blue line more frequently but with Robbie he was more the offensive defenseman.  Zach can throw his weight around and does a decent job in the corners.   No struggles in the skate drills and represented himself well.  Zach will look good in Providence.

Well, the plan was to include the goaltenders in this post as well however in my efforts to be thorough, I have rambled on long enough, so the men between the pipes will get a post of their own this afternoon.

L.W.L.

 

 

 

 

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