Tampa Bay Lightning training camp off to a good start with big crowd, good action
I have to say I enjoyed the second day of the Tampa Bay Lightning's training camp. The action was good during a 40-minute scrimmage, considering it was the first day of on-ice activity. And a crowd that was estimated at 800 at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon (parking was tough, so if you're coming out on Sunday, get there early) made for a festive atmosphere.
It certainly made new owner Jeff Vinik happy to see that kind of enthusiasm, and even GM Steve Yzerman said he appreciated the show of support.
* Center Dominic Moore, a free-agent acquisition, made his presence felt by pretty much being all over the ice. He certainly caught the attention of coach Guy Boucher, who said, "He represents a lot of what we want to do. He's fast. He's gritty. He's in your face. He drives to the net. He forces himself between the dots in areas that hurt, but it pays off."
* Prospect Richard Panik began making a name for himself at last year's prospects camp, and every time he plays in Tampa it seems as if you notice him. Panik, drafted 52nd overall in 2009, scored two goals. But more important he was in the right place at the right time. What did former coach Rick Tocchet call it? Hockey IQ. Panik seems to have it.
* Brett Connolly, the No. 6 overall pick in the June draft, seemed fairly comfortable in his first action against the NHL-level players who were scattered throughout the lineups. He showed good stick skills at one point when he pulled up to avoid a hit along the boards but was able to keep control of the puck despite the fancy footwork. On Nate Thompson's goal, Connolly stick-handled through traffic to get close to the net, where Thompson pounced on the rebound of Connolly's shot.
* It was a subtle move, but center Eric Perrin showed his hockey IQ when confronted by big Swede Victor Hedman at the blue line. Hedman engaged the much smaller Perrin. But Perrin somehow got some separation, and smacked the puck deep into the offensive zone to allow for a line change. Good play by a smart player.
* Forward Chris Durno and defenseman Matt Smaby threw some of the biggest hits in what was a fairly physical scrimmage.
* Some of the bigger names did not play in the scrimmage. Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos were on the other ice sheet, working on the power play.
* One down note, forward Mitch Fadden might miss all of camp with an upper-body injury sustained at the prospects tournament in Traverse City, Mich.