Yesterday I posted on how the fantasy draft went. Today I will focus on the skills competition and the game itself. One of the main reasons that the All Star game does so well is the skills competition. The NHL does a great job of marketing the various competitions and the players pride themselves on winning it. The best part about the skills competition is that all of the All Stars participate in it. Something that doesn’t happen in the other sports.
The presentation of the players was fantastic. This year in particular it seemed over the top. The players were introduced individually and skated through a fog that had their name and number projected onto it. Also a large screen was placed in the middle of the rink where images of the players were projected. The NHL did an amazing job with this.
The first competition was speed skating. I loved the skating backwards and the goalie staking because it’s part of the game that doesn’t get enough recognition. To think that the fastest players were circling the rink in 14 seconds is just amazing. Team Staal started pulling away immediately because of this competition.
Next up was the breakaway competition Which was voted on by the fans. Amazingly they had the real goalies in goal for this one, where players lifted and flipped and spun pucks around for fancy goals. I think Corey Perry and PK Suban got robbed in this one. Ovechkin just seemed not into it, but for whatever reason, he was the fan favorite and won it for the 3rd straight time.
The accuracy challenge was next, which was won by a lightening fast Daniel Sedin (8 breaks on 9 shots). Big Zhedeno won the fastest slap shop with a 105.9 MPH shot that broke his last record set in 2009. It should be noted that Shea Weber put up a heck of a fight with a 104.8MPH shot. The relay was really fun, but kind of contrived, I would have liked to see the Rookie vs. Sophomores game again. Team Lidstrom won the relay.
Finally the penalty shot was up where every skater shot penalty shots against the goaltenders. after two rounds everyone except Corey Perry and Martin St. Louis. St. Louis was stopped by Cam Ward and Perry scored a thrid straight goal to win the competition.
Sunday brought the All Star game itself to front stage and center. Again the introductions were made, although not nearly as cool as the Skills competition introductions. The game was very good although, I always find it weird not to see any defense played. Team Staal shot out to a 4-0 lead, but in the final 10 minutes Team Lidstrom was able to tie it up to 4-4 by the end of the first intermission.
The game pretty much went back and forth all the way to the final minute of play with what I considered to be an amazing finish. Team Staal even came back after an empty netter. In the end Team Lidstrom won the game 12-11 and the MVP was awarded to Patrick Sharp. How cool is it that they are all vying for a car. The best part is the car is almost always donated to charity or a family member.
Inc losing I found that the players that were miced up were the best part of the game. Cam Ward for the first period was quite funny as he answered question while being shot on. Having Steven Stamkos on mic for the second period was hysterical as well. Again in my opinion both of them upped their public persona quite a bit during the game. Overall I give the weekend a 4.5 out of 5 stars and really the only suggestion I have is to sub out the relay competition for the Rookie game or an old timers game. Either way it would be a lot of fun!