Some thoughts on Saturday's All-Star events:
- The new relay race was kind of cool but Versus clearly had no idea how to film it. The first round was over before they really caught up with the action. Liked it but I think I'd prefer if it was a timed event. Instead of each guying getting four passes/shots and scoring for each one that's successful they should have to attempt it until they're successful - or maybe successful a certain amount of times if that's too easy - before moving on to the next part. I don't know, it definitely needs to be longer though.
- I'm so disappointed the fastest man race isn't a full lap this year. Watching guys try desperately not to wipe out in the corners was the best part! The races were way too short this year. This is an all-star travesty!
- I'm still not sure how Brian Campbell won his heat even though he finished way behind the guy he was racing. Either the timers screwed up or they were timing from the blue line or some other point to give the players a running start. If the latter is the case, that's lame. Acceleration is part of speed in the NHL. A guy who can get to full speed faster deserves the leg up that gives him. Clearly the NHL is screwing with me because now I'm sure Campbell's agent and Bucky Gleason will be sure to work in that Campbell is the FASTEST SKATER IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE! (Versus probably explained how the timing was working but I wasn't paying attention and evidently no one I was watching with was either.)
There are maybe three or four people who will get why this photo cracked me up but I'm posting it anyway. Click on it for the full effect:
- The target shooting is probably my favorite event to watch. I had no idea Thomas Kaberle could shoot like that but I found myself really happy that he won. A Buffalo fan cheering for a Maple Leaf! Behold the power of All-Star Weekend!
- The Young Stars game was still a snooze though I do appreciate the NHL making it shorter. A lot of discussion amongst my group about whether Patrick Kane introduced himself as "P. Kane" or "Pete Kane" but during the game Manny Legace clearly said, "Go, Peter!" while Patrick was charging up the ice with the puck. I know Kane is a local kid so if anyone out there knows him or his family or has access to him or his family, please, please, please find out what's up with this whole "Peter" thing. I need to understand this. There's a free official Top Shelf t-shirt in it for you.* I lost track of the final score but I think it was 118-112.
- The camera angle on the first shootout event was terrible. Versus, when the camera man is behind the shooter I can't see the guy's stick and I can't see if the puck goes in the net. Those are kind of important to a shootout. I suppose I appreciate the attempt at something new but sometimes things are the way they are for a reason. No need to break the mold here, guys. Also, not every fan loves the shootout. I'm pretty sure I hate it now.
- I don't know if mic'd Manny Legace is quite up there with mic'd Marty Turco, but he was pretty good. My favorite moment was when he made a beautiful poke-check and then flailed helplessly at the rebound shot which went in for a goal and then exulted, "Did you see that awesome poke-check?!"
- I'm impressed that guys can hit the puck as hard as they do, but the hardest shot competition is a total snooze to watch on TV. Also, I don't think I'd ever heard Zdeno Chara interviewed until tonight. He's extremely well-spoken. I admit, I was a touch disappointed to learn that he doesn't talk in a mixture of caveman grunts and chimpanzee noises.
- The new breakaway challenge was kind of a disappointment at first - seriously, Pavel, that was not impressive - but it did get better as it went along. It would've been nice to see someone actually score but the creativity and effort were there at times. Even though he completely whiffed on the shot, I was pretty impressed with Ovechkin tossing the puck up in the air and then doing a 360 before swinging at the puck. Evidently he didn't play enough baseball growing up. I liked Ryan Getzlaf's moves but I think Marion Gaborik was robbed in the WC. I know there are people who hate Sidney Crosby being pushed so hard to the forefront but this event probably would've been better if he'd been here. I'd also like to see some kind of audition process behind the scenes because I'm sure there's a d-man on the All-Star squad somewhere who's not necessarily an offensive power in games who plays around with this stupid, showy stuff in practice and could pull off something wild.
- Scott Mellanby kept turning his scorecard around like he expected there to be a different number on the other side. I did like his response to how he would've handled this event though: "Not very well. I would've dumped it in and made the change."
- Some of the Sabres fans I was hanging with at Interchangeable Parts decided we would've liked to have seen two Sabres participate in the breakaway. We wanted to see Brian Campbell do a string of spin-o-ramas from center ice to the net and then wobble off the ice dizzily and we wanted to see Jochen Hecht take the puck down the ice, circle around the net, shoot from the worst angle on the ice, and bounce the puck off the goalie's back and both posts before it finally went in. I'm pretty sure he's actually done that before. Jochen would be so much better at this anything-goes shootout than the real thing.
- I have to give the NHL and NHL Network two thumbs up for the morning skate and red carpet coverage and also for streaming it all online for those of us who don't have NHL Network. It's true that one of the NHL's best assets is how likable and down-to-earth even the star players are and getting to see them in a more casual setting is fun. Jarome Iginla looked extremely dapper - guys, maybe more of you could wear ties next year? - and he has the best smile in professional sports. My favorite part of the red carpet though was probably Ilya Kovalchuk more or less admitting that the Thrashers are lucky their division sucks out loud.
- Not nearly enough Joe Thornton for my taste.
*Official Top Shelf t-shirts don't really exist. Sorry.