Monday, January 14, 2008

Lightning & Colorado Avalanche practice

I wandered across the Bay today to get my hockey fix. I enjoy watching hockey practice - almost better than games, actually. Seeing the drills and the guys having a good time takes me back, you know? And the players seem like they have so much more fun at practice. I realize that games are a more serious thing, but unless it's a blowout, and the team you follow is winning, they don't look like they're having a lot of fun. I know they enjoy the competition, but that's not quite the same thing.

As I was leaving Lightning practice, I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. I glanced over to the other sheet of ice and noticed that the Colorado Avalanche was just starting their practice, so I caught about half an hour of that - which was about the length of their organized practice, anyways. I had no idea that Colorado was even in town, let alone that they were practicing there, so that was a pleasant surprise. I know that they played the Florida Panthers last night, but I sort of thought that's where they'd practice before coming over this way. They play Tampa Bay tomorrow night.

I haven't seen Colorado play since the season before the lockout, but I used to watch them regularly, and there were only about five or six guys that I recognized. For some weird reason, I kept looking for Chris Drury - isn't that strange? He hasn't played there in forever, and I didn't pay all that much attention to him when he was there. I wasn't looking for Joe Sakic, who I knew didn't make the trip since he just had surgery - hernia, I think. My mind works weirdly sometimes.

You want to hear weird? The very first thing that I noticed about the Avs was that nobody takes full strides when they skate. Everyone takes short strides for some strange reason. I wonder if they draft and trade for that - because they all do it. They're quick, but I think the Lightning are probably faster.

I also noticed that they're a short team, too. I was standing at the corner of the rink for a little bit, and they were doing a drill so they were lined up in my corner, so the entire team went thru the line a couple of times before I went to sit down. I was wearing athletic shoes, and I was almost as tall as some of them in their skates - and I'm 5'8½" with bare feet. Most of Tampa's pretty tall, and I'd just watched them skate, so maybe that's why I noticed it.

It wasn't until I saw Colorado practice today that I realized how much of a finesse team the Lightning really are. Colorado is a physical team that likes to play the body first, instead of the puck. They'll grind a team into the corners until they tire them out. They're very aggressive and they can score, too. After watching them for a few minutes, it was obvious to me how much of a mark Forsberg left on this team. Even after being gone for 3½ seasons, that's the style of play they favor - the bone-crunching, injury inducing hockey style of Forsberg in his prime.

Tampa Bay doesn't play all that physical. They can, but that's not their style. Actually, it's not really much of an Eastern Conference style - except for Philadelphia, of course. The Western Conference is far more physical than the Eastern Conference. I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, but that's how it is. It's something to keep in mind when watching this game tomorrow night, anyway.

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Jibblescribbits said...

I don't follow the Bolts, so I don't get over to your blog nearly enough. You have a good one though and when I look for Bolts news, I come here.

I'm looking forward to watching them play my Avs tonight, and I'm glad you took time to watch the Avs practice. Most Avs bloggers (like myself) are outside of the Denver area at the moment and don't get to pick up stuff like that. Your observations are interesting.

Enjoy the game tonight.