October 9, 2012
Now that the four-game exhibition season is over, head coach John Hynes has less than a week to get his team ready for the season opener on Saturday. It's no surprise that he'll look at potential line combinations and defense pairings in practice, as well as keep an eye on the goaltender battle between Brad Thiessen and Jeff Zatkoff.
That's a lot to do in a short amount of time.
Oh, and Hynes also has to pick a captain, something that won't be easy this year due to the amount of capable veterans on the team.
Personally, I think Hynes will pick Warren Peters to wear the C. He carries himself like a captain on and off the ice, has worn the C for two seasons with Quad City and knows what it's like to spend years in the minors waiting for an NHL shot.
I talked to Peters about wearing the C for a story in the season preview, which will come out this Thursday. He said it's a job that can't be done by one person alone, and he also mentioned an element of leadership that he feels is critical - making those players whose jobs aren't set in stone feel comfortable. Make them feel like they belong, he said. That's what the Calgary Flames did for Peters the first time he was called up to the NHL.
As far as the goaltending competition, I expect Hynes to go with Thiessen on opening night. It's not that Thiessen is a ton better than Zatkoff - an all-star last season, it's just that he's been here for three years, has proven he can play and has looked pretty good in camp. For the remainder of the season, however, I wouldn't be surprised to see a platoon situation emerge between Thiessen and Zatkoff.
Sure, it's a tough decision for Hynes to make, but having two excellent goaltenders is a great position to be in.
- Denver Manderson suffered an undisclosed injury during Sunday's game against Hershey. He got in a fight with Steve Olesky near the end of the game - a bout which featured a bunch of wild swings during which Manderson showed a ton of guts.
- Dominik Uher was one of seven players sent to Wheeling on Monday. He's the one that I'd want to bring back first. Uher, who is 19, has all the makings of a top agitator. He is fearless, loves to throw crushing hits and isn't afraid to drop the gloves. Off the ice he's a well-spoken, nice guy. On it, Uher seems like a nasty individual - perfect for a third or fourth line pest.