LCS Hockey: Born Again
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January 22, 2019
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Don't Believe the Hype



Not every All-Star Skills Competition is stupid. Some are gay. This one was both.


LET THE EMBARRASSMENT BEGIN
The evening commenced with what can only be described as a typical NHL musical production, as Phil Spector played a rotating organ at center ice while Kirstie Ally’s older, less attractive sister screeched to the delight of no one in particular. What the (sunshine) was that?!?

This musical monstrosity didn’t just happen. Someone had to conceive the idea. Someone else had to approve it. And then lots of time, effort, and money were spent to make it happen. Seriously, who gives this the green light? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just kick me in the balls instead?


FASTEST SKATER
The evening’s first event was the Bridgestone Taco Bell MetLife Hewlitt-Packard McDonald’s Gyne-Lotrimin Summer’s Eve Chris Chelios Feminine Hygiene Product Fastest Skater Competition. Could the NHL be a bigger corporate whore?

The field was a who’s who of “Who canceled?” I’m not sure Zach Parise, Jeff Carter, Brian Campbell, and Jay Bouwmeester are the first names that come to mind when asked to consider the NHL’s fastest skater. YoungStars (and I mean that in the most elastic sense of the term) Mason Raymond and Andrew Cogliano were added to the competition to give it some actual speed, and Cogliano won it all, doing a lap in 14.31 seconds.

Skater               Time
Andrew Cogliano     14.31
Jeff Carter         14.43
Jay Bouwmeester     14.59
Zach Parise         14.59
Brian Campbell      14.90
Mason Raymond       15.14

Raymond almost wiped out in the second corner, so that’s why he finished last at 15.14 seconds. Which, oddly enough, was about 14 seconds longer than it took me to grow tired of Doc Emerick and Brian Engblom. I used to love Engblom when he was Cousin Oliver on the “The Brady Bunch,” but enough is enough.


BREAKAWAY CHALLENGE
This was the ol’ trick shot competition. Alexander Ovechkin won it last year for failing miserably. Aw, it was glorious. I’ll never forget the night I saw Ovechkin swing and miss the puck. How could this year’s contestants possibly top that magical moment?

The format was changed a bit. Shooters had one minute to take as many breakaways as they could against some scrub junior netminders. And unlike last year when a panel of “celebrity” judges determined the winner, this time the fans would decide matters. Nothing ever goes wrong when fans vote. Honest.

Patrick Kane led off and turned his stick upside down to score with his butt-end. Now that was swell. He also tried some stupid move where he flopped on his stomach and gloved the puck across for a one-armed sweep shot. Well, not everyone thought it was dumb. More on that later.

Martin St. Louis replaced Kid Crosby in both the All-Star Game and this here sideshow. While Marty didn’t score, he was darn entertaining, scooping up the puck and whipping two twirling backhanders; the first sailed high and the second hit the goalie in the belly. St. Louis also placed the puck on his blade and skated in like Samurai Deli, waving his stick all to and fro and whatnot before letting the puck drop to the ice for a shot.

Ryan Getzlaf repeated the spinning–backhand-scoop thing with no success. But he struck gold when he skated behind the net and wrapped the puck into the top right corner a la Mike Legg.

Alexei Kovalev broke out the soccer skills, playing the puck with his head on his first trip to the net and then tossing the biscuit into the air and stalling it on the back of his neck on his second and third attempts. On his final shot, Kovy stepped on the puck and rode it to the cage before kicking it free for a shot. Lots of subtle skill but nothing that brought fans out of their seats.

Steve Stamkos pulled off a couple real smooth between-the-leg shots, but he didn’t score on either one. He did light the lamp, though, with Kane’s ridiculous belly flop move. I don’t like using the glove to move the puck up to the stick. Just yell “Ow, my leg!” and pull the trigger.

The defending chump shot last. And if you thought Ovechkin couldn’t suck any worse than last year, then you, my friend, were misinformed.

Ovechkin started out with a spectacular stumble and non-shot. I got chills.

Next, he busted in on net and fired the puck wide. Ooh, I hope you set your TiVo!

The third attempt saw Ovechkin lose the puck entirely. Wow, how’d he come up with that one?

But Ovie saved the worst for last. In a shocking display of glasnost that no doubt turned the stomachs of Penguin and Capital fans everywhere, Ovechkin and Geno Malkin teamed up for some wacky prop comedy. Malkin gave Ovechkin zany sunglasses and a goofy hat adorned with a Canadian flag before refreshing him with a squirt of Gatorade. Unless that Gatorade was tainted, I’m not amused.

Ovechkin grabbed a hockey stick in each hand and skated towards the cage, the tiny Canadian flag flapping in the breeze. Instead of passing the pill back and forth between the sticks and firing a one-handed shot, Ovechkin tossed aside one of the twigs and pushed the puck left-handed into the goalie’s pads. Yeah, that was great. Way to go, Carrot Top.

Never fear, the fans still voted Ovechkin the winner. That’s right. Ovechkin has now won two breakaway challenges without ever scoring a goal. God bless the NHL.

Hey, remember when Michael Jordan won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest by taking off from the foul line and getting stuffed by the rim? Yeah, me neither.

FINAL VOTING

Player                   %
Alexander Ovechkin    42.8
Alexei Kovalev        19.7
Martin St. Louis      15.7
Ryan Getzlaf          11.5
Patrick Kane           6.8
Steve Stamkos          3.5


YOUNGSTARS GAME
The Rookies beat the Sophomores, 9-5. Blake Wheeler was the best player on the ice and bagged a hat trick to take MVP honors. Marc Staal starred for the second-year men, potting a pair and throwing a check against James Neal. It was also nice seeing Luke Schenn get a goal. Steve Dubinsky made a sweet ally oop pass to spring Cogliano. And Kris Letang showed he’s learned a lot playing with Kid Crosby, pulling off a splendid behind-the-back pass and later refusing to shoot the puck on a breakaway.


ACCURACY SHOOTING
Tomas Kaberle went 4-for-4 last year, but he could only muster a 3-for-8 showing this time, opening the door for a new champ. Geno Malkin and Dany Heatley were both perfect in the first round, joining the exclusive 4-for-4 club. Malkin edged Heatley in the head-to-head final, 3-2, to take the title. Geno connected on his first seven shots.

Afterwards, Malkin conducted an interview in English. Now that’s impressive. Almost as impressive as Jay Bouwmeester, who apparently had his first English interview earlier in the night. Bouwmeester is one eloquent bastard. Easy there, reverend. Save the inspirational stuff for the pulpit.

   
Player                  Result
Jonathan Toews         4-for-8
Evgeni Malkin          4-for-4
Ilya Kovalchuk         3-for-8
Dany Heatley           4-for-4
Mike Modano            4-for-5
Marc Savard            3-for-8
Jarome Iginla          4-for-7
Tomas Kaberle          3-for-8


HARDEST SHOT
Zdeno Chara ain’t no joke. The big man dropped the hammer, establishing a new record with a blast of 105.4 mph. Al Iafrate had the old mark at 105.2 mph. So much for his male pattern baldness=velocity theory.

Shea Weber, LCS Hockey hero and the idol of millions from eight to eighty, clocked in at 103.4 mph to finish second. Chara’s first shot came in at 103.3, while Sheldon Souray was the only other guy to hit triple digits, going for 102.3.

Chara got the boys to chip in some scratch beforehand. The winner received $24,000 for his favorite charity. Chara will be donating the bread to Right to Play, which helped get Barry Melrose fired. You’re welcome, Stamkos.

Player                  1st     2nd 
Mark Streit            98.3    96.0
Shea Weber             98.9   103.4 
Mike Komisarek         95.6    98.5
Vincent Lecavalier     96.6    97.0
Sheldon Souray         98.1   102.3 
Zdeno Chara           103.3   105.4


ELIMINATION SHOOTOUT
Basically, it’s the same thing teams do at the end of practice. Everybody takes a breakaway. If you get stopped, you sit down. It keeps on trucking until only one man is left standing.

Shane Doan eventually won, outlasting Marc Savard in Round Seven. Doan clinched things with a forehand five-hole goal on J.S. Giguere. Henrik Lundqvist pokechecked Savard to secure Doan’s victory.

Doan, Savard, and Milan Hejduk were the only ones to make it out of Round Three. Hejduk was spectacular. He destroyed Giguere, Tim Thomas, and Niklas Backstrom in the first three rounds, abusing all three with sick dekes. For whatever reason, he decided to just shoot the puck in Rounds Four and Five and came up empty, letting Doan and Savard off the hook. Hejduk should have closed things out.

In Round Six, Doan beat Giguere forehand five-hole. Thomas took a dive for Savard, surrendering the blocker side for his Bruin teammate. Pathetic. Hejduk got bounced when Backstrom stoned him with the left pad. At least Doan won, otherwise Thomas would be getting ripped. Let’s just pretend we didn’t see it.

And that’s fine, because not many of the All-Stars saw it either. For some bizarre reason, the NHL banished all unsuccessful shooters to the locker room. As soon as they missed, they had to split. So much for ending things with a jubilant on-ice celebration. Doan won and had the pleasure of no one congratulating him.

Yippee.

I’d write more, but I missed a joke earlier and am being asked to leave the keyboard.





LCS Hockey: Born Again
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