Saturday, January 26, 2008

East is the beast when it comes to the skills

Night one of the all star break weekend has come and gone, with the Eastern team showcasing their offensive prowess in front of an appreciative if at times slightly confused crowd of Atlantan’s.

The Phillips arena crowd seemed to enjoy themselves as the All Stars went through their paces, but the obstacle course seemed to provide more than a fair share of mystery as the Thrasher’s faithful tried to make sense of it all.

And as it seems to have been all season so far, it was Alexander Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals multi million dollar man who provided the key spark for the nights competition.

Ovechkin gained points on style from the panel of celebrity judges in the final event the Breakaway challenge, edging out the West’s Ryan Getzlaf. Ovechkin’s attempts to lift the puck into the air and bat it into the net seemed to appeal to the judges who gave him the nod and the points.

When all the tabulating was done, the East had defeated the West 9-6 in total points giving them the bragging rights heading into Sunday’s 56th, All star match up.

The East proved to be dominant in a number of other events lined up for the skills competition including.

Hardest shot—Which saw Zdeno Chara return as champion of the slap shot, with a 103.1 mph rocket that would have made Bobby Hull or Boom Boom Geoffrion proud. Chara’s shot when averaged with his Eastern team mates gave the East 100.1 mph advantage compared to the West’s slumbering 98 mph.

Accuracy shots—In what may come as a surprise to Toronto maple Leaf fans, Tomas Kaberle proved to have an eagle eye when it comes to shooting on target, as he bested the West’s Jason Arnott.

Obstacle course—The East sent out some fast wheels and fast thinking for this one. as teams of Jason Spezza, Marc Savard, Sergei Gonchar and Tim Thomas prevailed over their western counterparts, as did Evgeni Malkin, Mike Richards, Andrei Markov and Rick DiPietro.

Fastest Skater--The West cam claim the title this year for the fastest skate around the rink, as Edmonton’s Shane Horcoff picked up the title for his speedy Gonzalez routine which saw him go from goal line to far blue line in 4.395 seconds.

Young Guns—The West also can lay claim to the top of the crop when it comes to youngsters, the Western squad took charge of the four on four competition with Alexander Edler of Vancouver, Erik Johnson of St. Louis, Jack Johnson of Los Angeles and Matt Niskanen of Dallas; forwards Sam Gagner of Edmonton, Patrick Kane of Chicago, Peter Mueller of Phoenix and David Perron of St. Louis sharing the glories after the competition.

Elimination shootout—Another win for the West as Dion Phaneuf survived the eliminations to score the successful goal against Tim Thomas. Scott Gomez was the last hope for the Eastern squad but was stopped by Manny Legace.

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