Quick Impressions From Wednesday Practice

— This had all the looks of a training camp practice and not something you’d see during the regular season.  It was very physical at times, specifically during some drills in the offensive zone and one-on-one work.  It wasn’t uncommon to see that extra little cross check…and there was a near altercation after one player knocked another to the ice — the player who fell proceeded to try to chop the other player’s stick out of his hands and knock his helmet off.  I’m pretty sure I know who both guys were but I’m not 1000 percent sure so I’m not going to say…but really I want to give you the impression of what it’s like.  There are jobs on the line and these guys know it.

— There is very little in the way of significant information that you can get by actually watching a practice this time of year.  Lines and D-pairs are subject to change, etc.  The most valuable info comes afterwards, when you can talk to the players and coaches.  Finding out Kory Nagy was coming down, for example, is why you go to a practice…because the Devils aren’t going to release that info a second before they have to.  It also makes the lines irrelevant, because he’s one of the 10 forwards who’s playing when he comes here, no doubt about it.  He’s expected in tomorrow.

— Thoughts on the practice from A to Z?  Sure.  Akeson and Zancanaro — Jeremy and Tony, respectively — were the two players who stood out to me the most.  I paid close attention to the one-on-one drills the team was doing…let me explain what those are.  An offensive player will rush down the side of the ice as a defensive player will skate backwards alongside him and try to break up the play as they get to the blue line.  Akeson never particularly struck me either way with his skating ability in years past, but his stride looked great and he blew the doors off of the D-man a few times.  Same with Zancanaro.  The guy is built like an action figure, so it makes sense, but it’s always impressive to see someone his size that strong on the puck.

— In case I’m not the only one who cares, both Dave Caruso and Jeff Lerg had the same masks they did last year.  Caruso got a new black and red one midway through last season that he’s still using, and Lerg has the green Sparty mask with a full cage.  He has new Devils-themed sticks, but I believe he still has green gear.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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