I have been able to watch a couple of practices and at this point, the opening night lineup is becoming more and more clear. Destry Straight practiced for the first time today after suffering from back spasms last week. Interestingly, Straight was not put at left wing where he was a season ago. Right now, the staff has Straight lined up at center with freshman Brendan Silk and Frank Vatrano. While he may not be at 100 % right now, I think Straight will be all set to go for the season opener vs New Brunswick in two and a half weeks. I have a couple of observations from the first couple of practices...
1. The Johnny G - Mullane- Linell line is going to be a force in Hockey East this season. Even in practice, you could see that these three were really coming together as a line. It may take a few games for Linell to get used to playing with these guys but when he does, this could be one of the best lines in the league.
2. Forward Brendan Silk appears to have an edge in cracking the starting lineup. In the past few practices, he has been skating at right wing with Destry Straight and Frank Vatrano. This was a little bit of a surprise as I didn't think Silk would earn a top 9 spot but he looks good so far in practice. Hopefully he keeps it up.
3. The defense is not as big a problem as people say it will be. Yes, I see why people will say "BC will be weak on D" but as it appears to me, this team could have six pretty solid defenseman for the season. I think the starting three with Wey, Matheson, and Alber are among the top three in the league. Trust me, Matheson will win Rookie of the Year (unless of course the league screws another BC guy). Macleod and Doherty will be fine and I honestly think Travis Jeke has looked pretty solid so far. I am definitely not as worried as I was going into the first practices.
4. This team has a really good nucleus of experienced/skilled players. Skill is something that every team wants and most in Hockey East have. But combine skill and experience and you have one heck of a hockey team. This Eagle squad has some really skilled guys like Mullane, Whitney , and Wey that will help the freshman progress as the season grows older.
Here were the lines-
Johnny G- Mullane- Linell
Hayes- Arnold- Whitney
Vatrano- Straight- Silk
Spiro- Brown/Sit- Smith
Until next time,