I thought the weekend's NHL All-Star festivities were pretty entertaining. Saturday night's Skills Competition was pretty entertaining. I like the new events they added. Here's a little recap of my thoughts...
It was good, but it needed to get a little more difficult - maybe less time to complete the course.
This year it was a straight sprint from the goal line to the opposite blue line. Personally, I liked the old version, a complete circle around the entire sheet of ice. Took longer to complete and had more skill due to crossover ability.
The Elimination Shootout was your typical shootout, including Gabby not scoring. My only beef was Versus camera angle following the players. You couldn't really see what moves they were making.
Young Stars Game
This was the most-improved event. They went with 2 6-minute halves, running time, and 3 on 3. Made for a pretty exciting game, and the veteran goalies being miked up was pretty entertaining.
This wasn't changed much, except for a final 1 on 1 matchup to determine an overall winner. Made for some good drama. Tomas Kaberle hit a total of 8 targets on 9 shots. Very impressive.
Nothing changed here. Zdeno Charra won for the 2nd year in a row, with a shot of 103.1 MPH.
While this event got some mixed reviews in the media, I liked it alot. The first bunch of players either didn't get the concept, or they're not creative. The point of this event was to go in on the goalie and do whatever you wanted to try to score - no rules. The first to actually do something creative was Gabby. In case you didn't see it, he skated to the opposite goal line and got up his amazing speed before he picked up the puck at the center line. He skated in on Rick Dipietro and stopped about a foot in front of him. Dipietro went down thinking he was going to shoot, but Gabby skated behind the net and tried the wraparound. Dipeitro got his skate back just as Gabby was trying to tuck it in the side of the net, and kept it out. Had Gabby waited and lifted the puck, sure goal. It was a great move and a great save.
Ryan Getzlaf tried the old lacrosse-style move to pick up the puck and throw it (Gopher fans, think Michigan on Steve DeBus) and Alex Ovechkin tried the bounce the puck on your stick and toss it to bat it in, but neither were able to actually connect. On Ovechkin's last attempt, he tried the 360 after he threw it in the air. He missed the puck on the baseball swing, but it was enough to score big points from the judges, and he got the win.
I think this event will get better as the years go on. It'll be like the NBA's dunk competition. I think it will have a few really good years where the fans love it as the players try new things, but they'll run out of creative moves and it will die out. But for a few years, it should be alot of fun.
Ah, the perfect situation for Marian Gaborik. A game of cherry-picking frivolity. Ironically enough, Gabby's only didn't come until the 3rd period on a pass from Henrik (or was it Daniel) Sedin from behind the net. It certainly wasn't of the breakaway-ilk. Ultimately, the East beat the West 8-7 on a timely and pretty goal by Marc Savard with about 20 seconds left. Somehow Eric Staal got the MVP and the new Dodge van-car-truck-looking car (or van, or truck...whatever it was) even though Rick Nash had a hat trick.
Once again the post-game provided the highlight of the night...Gabby and Dallas' Mike Riberio signing each other's jerseys. See the pic below. It was touching.
Next on the Docket - Ducks @ Wild - Wed Jan 30
Back to hockey that matters for the Wild on Wednesday. The Wild were beaten pretty soundly the last time the Ducks were at Xcel, and with more players not in the All-Star game they will be better rested. Watch this one on Versus with a special 6PM start. Wild 4 Ducks 3