Tag Archives: Skinner

Kisses from the All-Stars

With a fantasy draft divvying up the All-Star roster, both Eric Staal and Nick Lidstrom became team captains of Team Staal and Team Lidstrom. Hometown fans and Hurricanes’ holler wasn’t enough to pull out the win for Carolina Hurricanes Eric Staal’s NHL All-Star team, Team Staal, who lost by a goal to Team Lidstrom. The four-time Stanley Cup champion and six-time winner of the Norris Trophy, Nicklas Lidstrom, led his team to victory over Team Staal, 11-10.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were out with injuries, but we celebrate them all year. This game was a chance for the other players to gain their deserved recognition. And with that, here are a few highlights from the NHL portion in Raleigh, N.C.

Alex Ovechkin made the first goal of the night and the first faux pas for Team Staal. Ovechkin drew the first All-Star penalty shot when he threw his stick in front of the path of Team Lidstrom’s Matt Duchene on a breakaway. Odd play- looks like Ovechkin lost grip or made the sabotage allowing the stick to slide quite a distance on the ice right past the Avalanche forward. Duchene missed the shot against New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. If I were a cartoonist, I would have a blast sketching devil horns on Ovechkin and angel wings on Duchene. Or King Henry knighting Duchene as Ovi stretches on the rack.

And now to the defending Stanley Cup Champs time on the ice- Team Staal’s victory was Patrick Sharp winning a new car and named All-Star MVP for his goal and two assists. Chicago Blackhawks teammates, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane claimed the win with Team Lidstrom. Done.

Carolina Hurricane’s forward Jeff Skinner was the youngest NHL All-Star to play in the NHL at 18 years, 259 days, beating Steve Yzerman’s previous record in 1984 by just eight days. Many of the veterans tried to set Skinner up for a goal, but not go. Glad to see Skinner cheered by an awesome group of fans. If anyone doubts that the southeast can support hockey, I beg to differ. Raleigh and Charlotte have made a commitment to hockey playing within the zone of Ovechkin, Byfuglien, and Stamkos. A zone that has not yet been capitalized, teams with low attendance like in Atlanta need to grow or do more marketing. The rumors of Atlanta possibly shifting to Quebec or Winnipeg rouse the loyal in Canada. But if Bettman chooses to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, rather than support the Atlanta Thrashers, the commish must have tee time in Scottsdale often with the NHL players who have retired there.

All-Star games are a celebration of the best talent of the year. Anze Kopitar, Danny Briere and Loui Eriksson scored two apiece for Team Lidstrom. Adding one each were Toews, Dustin Byfuglien, Duchene, Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis. Staal and Letang each had two goals for Team Staal while Ovechkin Paul Stastny, Patrik Elias, Claude Giroux, Sharp and Rick Nash added the others.

Speed puck champ, Zdeno Chara, had two assists for Team Staal. Chara won the puck speed skill competition with105.9, shattering his old record of 105.4 in 2009.

Meanwhile, in Hershey with dancing mascots of chocolates kisses and a plethora of other chocolate delights, the AHL honored their best-of-the-best. Bobby Butler, leading rookie-goal-scorer of the Binghamton Senators was chosen MVP with a goal, 3 assists and a plus-4 rating. Amazing to note that last year’s AHL MVP was Tyler Ennis who now plays for the Buffalo Sabres, and a few years prior, Tampa Bay’s Teddy Purcell took the honors.

Bruce Boudreau, Olaf Kolzig and the current AHL President Dave Andrews reminisced on their time in the AHL and the importance of their experience. All commented on the friendships made while playing in the AHL and the torture of travel, notably the 14-hour bus trips from Halifax to Portland. Most AHL players will never get to the NHL, but if you get to play hockey as your job instead of sitting in a cubicle pushing papers, you’ve done good.

Advertisements

All-Stars Shining Bright

The NHL All-Star weekend kicks off in Raleigh, and both Crosby and Malkin will be missing. This makes room for the Carolina Hurricanes to showcase the talents of Jeff Skinner and Jamie McBain. Skinner has been added to the Staal team, and McBain will participate in the skills competition. Nice to see Paul Stastny added as the second representative for the Colorado Avalanche, a fantastic model for the young gunners found in many new teams, including Carolina.

The NHL Network will have a two-hour special starting at 6 p.m. EST on Friday, then the skills competition on Saturday, followed by the 2011 NHL All-Star Game on Sunday at 4 p.m. EST.

While the festivities in Raleigh rage, the AHL is putting on the Ritz in Hershey Jan. 30-31. The 2011 AHL All-Star Skills Competition is at 3 p.m. on Sunday, January 30, and the 2011 AHL All-Star Game at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 31. As a hockey enthusiast, the AHL weekend is a surge to highlight the players who may be sitting on an NHL roster near you. Included in the selections of 31 first-time AHL All-Stars and 11 rookies, with roots at the University of Denver and the Big Ten worth taking a look at.

AHL rookie scoring leader Rhett Rakhshani of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and formerly of DU is an exciting player to follow. His name sent a rush through the crowd at the Ritchie Center in Denver. I witnessed Rakhshani’s talent that was evident of a great future career in hockey.

Other notables to watch and take notes:
*Bobby Butler, leading rookie-goal-scorer of the Binghamton Senators
*Goaltender Jake Allen of the Peoria Rivermen
*Martin Jones, goaltender of the Manchester Monarchs.

Grand Rapids Griffins and former University of Wisconsin defenseman and Hobey Baker finalist, Brendan Smith, is absolutely a player to watch. He signed an entry-level contract in 2007 with the Detroit Red Wings, so keep your eye on his skills and his career.

Other notable players who played in the AHL All-Star game last season, and worth taking note:
*Syracuse Crunch goaltender, Kyle Palmieri
*John Moore, defenseman for the Springfield Falcons
*Corey Locke of Binghamton, who is the all-time leading scorer in the AHL All-Stars and the AHL leading scorer.
*Dustin Jeffrey, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Center who has some time on the ice with the Pittsburgh Penguin.

From the Southeast Division, note these players with time in the NHL:

*Andrew Gordon, winger for Hershey and the Washington Capitals
*Bryan Rodney, of the Charlotte Checkers and Carolina Hurricanes

These AHL players are crucial to the success of the NHL and many have seen ice time with their respective franchises. Enjoy a weekend full of hockey!