Main Camp - Day Two
Figuring line combinations two days into training camp is like trying to read tea leaves from the bottom of a paper coffee cup.
Of course that doesn't stop anyone from trying.
All the post-practice banter on day two focused on the, as yet unnamed, 'third twin.'
"We've played with all different kinds of wingers," said Daniel Sedin. "It doesn't have to be a skilled winger or it doesn't have to be a fancy player. I think you'll notice right away if it's a good fit."
The qualifications are pretty straightforward.
Anson Carter's been the player who's done it most effectively thus far, reading the Twins to the tune of 33 goals last year.
If media chatter is a reasonable barometer, the two leading candidates to step in on the right side with Hank and Danny are Manitoba Moose leading-scorer Jesse Schultz and free-agent signing Jan Bulis.
"For sure I wouldn't mind that," said Bulis, who posted 20 goals last year playing a mostly defensive role in Montreal. "They're offensive guys and I've been actually looking for that since I got out of Montreal, a chance to play a little offense."
"We'll see how it goes in camp, but that would be great."
Statistics say the Twins are most successful playing with a more gritty style forward - one who isn't afraid to stand at the far post and chop at the rebounds.
"I don't mind playing in front of the net. Most of the goals I've scored have been off rebounds and tips. I like that kind of work."
"If we're matched together I would like that kind of job."
For his part Schultz is more focused on proving he can work his magic in the NHL than worrying about where he might fit on Alain Vigneault's depth chart.
"It's a plus coming in and there being a couple of spots there, but I still have to play hard and show that I want it because other guys are fighting for them too."
"I know it's going to take a lot of work, and I know it's a process, but I'm learning every day and trying to show them I can play at the NHL level."
If head coach Vigneault's line combinations are any indication, Hank will start the year skating with Gordie Dwyer and Jan Bulis, while Danny lands on a wing with Rick Rypien and Trevor Linden.
It's possible, but chances aren't good.
"We're just mixing up guys right now and getting everyone to work with one another and respect one another," said Vigneault. "With the eight games in 11 nights we'll be able to figure some things out then."
As far as the Twins are concerned?
"It's only been two practice, so we'll see what happens," said Danny.
"He [Vigneault] has an open mind and he'll try some different lines out there and we'll see what happens."
New Masked Man
"I wanted to get something that represented Vancouver," said Luongo. "You can see the tall buildings and the mountains in the background, and at the same time there's a lot bears on the West Coast and I wanted to gets something that looked a bit intimidating."
Whether it was the new contract, or just great aim, Green beat Luongo three times in early drills snapping consecutive wristers just under the bar.
Green skated drills on a line with Brad Moran and the great Dane Jannik Hansen.
"Josh green is a great skater, he's got energy, and I think if he's on top of his game he can play in this new NHL and play well.
"I thought he had a great season with us in Manitoba last year. He traveled more miles than anyone in the NHL as far as flying time and still found a way to contribute.
Trevor Linden hit Predator Ridge late yesterday and attempted to beat Autumn by squeezing in a full round with the Twins.
"It was black when we finished and it was freezing too," said Linden. "Danny and Henrik just had shorts and t-shirts on, but they didn't seem to care. I guess they're Swedish and that makes them tough. They're good at the cold."
The temperature didn't help their game any, though starting late and still getting a full 18 holes done in mid-September is an accomplishment in itself.
So far the coaches have said they like what they're seeing on the ice.
Following last season, management instructed the team to come back in much better shape. They have.
Saturday morning's practice was fast-paced and long.
"First of all it wasn't a bag skate, it was just a conditioning skate," said Vigneault. "Our veterans tested extremely well. I'm very, very pleased with their results."
"The guys mentioned last year that they wanted to redeem themselves. They put those words into action. It was a big improvement from last year. Some of our younger guys need some education about what's needed at this level"
Change Is Better
So far the coaches have had lots to say about the bevy of new faces on the ice - there hasn't been quite as much candid evaluation from the other side, but Linden said the reviews are all very positive inside the room.
"From our individual meetings to being on the ice [Vigneault] is very direct. He doesn't mix his words and that's an expectation that players have."
"He's going to be very demanding from a work standpoint, and he's going hold guys to a real high standard regardless of where you fit in the depth chart."
"I not only think it's what this group need, I think it's what players expect and want. I think guys look forward to that."