Trotz excited for start of rookie scrimmages

Trotz excited for start of rookie scrimmages
July 10, 2014, 12:15 pm
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

On Day One of development camp, the Caps’ top prospects worked with skating coaches who critiqued their strides and tried correcting bad habits.

On Day Two, the prospects learned more about off-ice conditioning, proper nutrition and took part in position-specific drills to help them better understand their positions.

On Day Three, the pace was ratcheted to another level with 5-man line rushes and 2-on-1 drills that put defensemen and goalies to the test.

Today at 4:15 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, head coach Barry Trotz will finally see his prized prospects play in a scrimmage game and show what they do best.

“I think it’s allowed the players to learn,” Trotz said of the carefully measured pace of his first development camp. “I think it’s allowed the players to keep good energy in terms of not breaking down in the middle of the summer.

“I know when you start playing scrimmages real quickly sometimes guys get hurt and the miss a good portion of the camp.”
So far, the only notable absence has been defenseman Garrett Haar, a 2011 draft pick who sat out Wednesday’s session with flu symptoms.

Today, Trotz and his coaching staff will get their first game-action look at top prospects like forwards Andre Burakovsky, Jakub Vrana, Riley Barber and Chandler Stephenson, defensemen Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Michal Cajkovsky and goaltenders Pheonix Copley and Vitek Vanecek.

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“So far we’ve had a good balance of getting them ready for the scrimmages,” Trotz said.

“I think we’ve had a really good plan. We’re teaching them really core values of what we want. We’ve had breakout sessions on things you need to know in this game, earning respect from not only teammates but the fans and the coaches -- things that are common sense but we don’t talk about.

“I expect what they’ve learned they’re going to use in the scrimmages. I expect better execution than when you just sort of throw guys out there. They have a little bit of a plan of how they’re going to play.”

The Caps will close out their six-day camp with scrimmage games on Friday at 10:30 a.m. and Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

“Hopefully we’ll see some great scrimmages,” Trotz said. “I know this place will be hopping. Guys will be excited and I’ll be excited to see some good hockey.”

Trotz said shootouts will be a scheduled part of the scrimmages, calling them “a big part of the game.”

“I expect it to be real fun. We’ve got some great fans and I know when the scrimmages happen we’ll be rockin’ the red.”

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As for the start of the Caps’ real training camp on Sept. 18, Trotz said he is still contemplating whether to invite enough players for three groups or begin with a more manageable number. The Caps have nine preseason games on tap and Trotz said he’d like to see his veterans play in at least five of them.