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It is Hockey Time Again

The Atlanta Thrashers opened up Training Camp this weekend which means that it is time for me to resume blogging again. Despite being sleep deprived because of a late hockey game the night before, I headed up to NHL camp for the first time. Here are few stat-free observations.

I have to say that Eric Perrin caught my eye. He is smaller than I remember from Tampa Bay games but his speed is very good. To be honest I'm very bullish about the checking line of Larsen-Perrin-Dupuis. I think that they have the speed to stay with any opposition line in their own end. That speed will also come in handy in the offensive zone where I expect that some lazy opposition players will resort to hooking them if Perrin or Dupuis get a step on them. I can see this line drawing many power play chances for the club.

The "fast-break offense" line of Kovalchuk-White-Sterling was another group I was very keen to seen in action. Kovalchuk's production took a step back last year and a big chuck should be attributed to inferior line mates. I really like the potential of this group as well. Brett Sterling has played with talented linemates and he knows how to pass as well as shoot. He's not terribly fast but I can imagine him getting some goals as the high trailer if Kovalchuk and Todd White bust up the ice at Mach Four. I didn't focus as much on White and when I did watch him I was expecting to see more speed from him. Then again, it was just practice so I'm eager to see him perform at game speed. By the way, when I was crunching numbers this season White has performed at a very high level on the power play in recent seasons so perhaps he could perk up our first unit.

Bryan Little looked solid but he was playing with two other prospects so it is hard to know how he would have done centering two talented NHL caliber players.

Tobias Enstrom makes great passes but I worry about his ability to cover in his own end. Even when he is in the right spot he is so small he has trouble protecting all the passing lanes with this stick.

It is going to be terrific having Alexei Zhitnik all this season. His shots from the point on deflection drills are always hard and low and he seems to get them away with a minimum amount of effort.

Goalie Dan Turple was absolutely shelled by the "half-court offense" line of Kozlov-Holik-Hossa. Good to see that line in top form. Hossa had one play where he had his back to the net--he receives a pass to his forehand--then he spins and delivers a backhand roof shot in one quick motion. I've watched this guy for two seasons and you still forget how sneaky fast he can be out there on the ice.

Well there is a lot of hockey ahead with many twists and turns along the way but it feels good to see the season get underway.