Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday Practice Update 10/30

A personnel note first, as always. Defenseman Matthew Konan and forwards Brayden Schenn and Matt Mangene missed today's practice for varying reasons. Konan was under the weather, so the team sent him home. Schenn received a maintenance day, but should be back on the ice tomorrow.

Mangene probably won't be, as he sustained an undisclosed upper-body injury in Sunday's win over Syracuse. The rookie winger was hit on the play on which he recorded his first professional point, coach Terry Murray said. He didn't have a timetable on Mangene's return and had no further updates.

In Schenn and Mangene's absence, their Sunday linemate, Tye McGinn, dropped down to practice with healthy scratches Matt Ford and Garrett Roe. Tyler Brown skated as the extra forward.

Story in tomorrow's paper about McGinn, who had himself a game Sunday at Syracuse. Scored two goals and factored in the game-winner by providing a screen for Brandon Manning's point-shot.

McGinn, right, started the season on a power-play unit along with Garrett Roe and Ben Holmstrom, but worked himself onto the top unit with Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier. Murray really likes having a big body in front of the net and McGinn has filled that role nicely this year.

I thought his play this weekend was particularly interesting because there have been NHL players who have built entire careers out of camping out in front of the net. It takes a special kind of player to do that job and do it well.

"That’s a role that’s hard to fill, but it’s needed by every team in hockey at any level in hockey." Murray said. "When you can buy into and contribute in that area of the game, you’re a very important player. ... He has a sense for it. He has a feel for it. He’s worked at it from the start of the training camp, especially on the power play. You’re such an important guy that I think he’s maybe starting to enjoy it. He’s finding himself there more and more right now."

If McGinn can really hone that skill and keep improving on other aspects of his game - he mentioned he's been working on his speed - he could develop into a nice power forward. But Murray acknowledged there's some work to be done.

"He's trying to find his game on a consistent basis," Murray said. "He's trying to make his mark at the pro level. ... That's a part of it. He got involved the other night in a pretty good scuffle. That's a part of the game too. He stands up for his teammates and that's a great skill to have also. He's got size, strength. He's got good hands and he's trying to figure out where to go to the soft areas so he can score some goals."

McGinn had two power play goals through his entire rookie season last year. He's already got one power play goal to his credit - it came on opening night - and then at Syracuse he scored a few seconds after one power play expired. His thoughts on those and fighting in tomorrow's story.

Today's practice was moved back to 12:30 because of auxiliary effects of Hurricane Tropical Storm Frankenstorm Sandy. The Civic Center ice crew covered the playing surface last night (if the Civic Center lost power, they didn't want to lose the ice). That wound up not being an issue, though.

It occurred to me that we never went around the division Sunday. Better late than never.

Springfield scored three times in the first period and held on to beat Portland, 3-2. Danny Groulx, Sena Acolatse and Tim Kennedy each had a goal and two assists as Worcester beat Bridgeport, 5-2. Albany and Connecticut were idle.

And we missed this yesterday, but Charlotte's Dan Ellis is your AHL Player of the Week. Not a bad start for the Checkers. They're 6-1-0-1 without a home game. EDIT: And the rich get richer as an already-stacked Oklahoma City team expects to add Taylor Hall Friday night, per TSN.

More after tomorrow's practice,


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