In the grand scheme of things, the vast majority of the players on the ice today will never wear a sweater in an NHL game. But for the rookies and free agent invitees that donned Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers gear for the annual rookie game, this game meant a lot to whether or not they would be gainfully employed playing for those respective organizations when camp breaks.
And for the fans, it didn't much matter who was wearing it, they were representing the Capitals and a return from a much-too-long summer of disappointment from another early-round playoff exit.
That the Flyers rookies defeated the Caps rookies 3-2 is pretty much immaterial. In this case, it's not the "how many", but how the individuals handled their assignments, displayed their talents, and held their composure.
The Caps had a few standouts in this one, and they are names you'd expect to be on that list. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov was the best player on the ice for either team in the game. Stan Galiev had a beautiful drop pass to set up the first Caps goal by free agent Garrett Ross. Garrett Mitchell had the second goal -- a third period rebound effort -- and did his customary work along the boards and in the corners. Both goalies, Philipp Grubauer and Brandon Anderson were solid, with Anderson making a pair of spectacular saves in the late going.
Of course, some players have to take other measures to get noticed, so there were a handful of fights as well. Dustin Stevenson, who donned the captain's C for the contest and also assisted on the Mitchell goal with a blast from the point, mixed it up, along with Reid Edmondson and Danick Paquette, acquired along with a fifth round pick for Eric Fehr.
Centers Cody Eakin and Mattias Sjogren, in a battle for perhaps the last roster spot with the big club this year, were both solid if unspectacular, and played together on the first power play unit.
So this first game -- scrimmage really -- is in the books. Everybody got their feet wet, some players stood out and Caps fans finally got a small taste of the game. With the veterans reporting Friday and camp opening in earnest on Saturday, the pressure gets ratcheted up a notch.