Patrick Kane’s Superman cape and Zdeno Chara’s blistering hot slap shot wasn’t enough to beat Daniel Alfredsson and his team stocked with hometown favorites in the NHL All-Star skills competition Saturday night.
Team Alfredsson beat Team Chara 21-12, easily clinching the victory in the final-round shootout challenge. Alfredsson had one of his team’s 10 shootout goals in outscoring Chara 10-3.
That was enough to get the hometown crowd on its feet, cheering on a Senators-stocked team that Alfredsson selected in the draft Thursday night.
”They can have as many showmanship points as they want, but they had some funny moments,” Alfredsson said. ”Obviously, the Chara slap shot was pretty spectacular, but I think we were steady. A lot of guys came through big for us. The goalies were really good in the shootout for us and it feels good to win it. It doesn’t mean a whole lot, but still, you want to win.”
Chara did break his own skills competition record for hardest shot with a blast at 108.8 mph. That bettered the mark of 105.9 he set in Raleigh last year.
”It’s hard to believe,” Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said. ”I remember Al Iafrate was at 103 or something and that was a huge one. I remember I was so thrilled to break 100 once, `Man!’ We talk amongst us and when we break 100, we’re all pretty happy. But now it doesn’t even look that hard with 108.”
The two teams will now face off Sunday in the All-Star game.
Chara gave his team a shot – literally and physically – by helping his team to a 3-2 win in the fifth round of the competition, cutting Alfredsson’s lead to 11-9.
”I tried to do my best. Obviously I wanted to do it over here as well. I had great years in Ottawa and I’m happy I could do it,” Chara said in an interview broadcast over the video scoreboard, which drew plenty of applause. Chara spent four seasons with the Senators before signing with the Bruins in 2006.
All four of Chara’s shots actually bettered the record he set last year as well as his closest opponent, Team Alfredsson defenseman Shea Weber, whose best was 106 mph.
”It’s a record that will be extremely hard for anybody else to beat – maybe himself,” Alfredsson said.
Entertaining as the competition was for the soldout house, it was competing with troubling news regarding Sidney Crosby’s status shortly after the event began. The Penguins announced that Crosby had a neck injury, which had fully healed, in addition to a concussion after he visited a doctor in California.
General manager Ray Shero said he was ”optimistic” Crosby will play again this season after being limited to eight games.
Kane, the Blackhawks forward and Team Chara member, provided the entertainment value in the breakaway challenge. He wore Clark Kent glasses and had teammate Marian Hossa tie a Superman cape around his neck for Kane’s second attempt. Kane’s scored on his first shot, diving chest-first to the ice and using his left hand to glove the puck across to his stick to tap it in.
On his third chance, Kane used a mock puck which split in two when he took a slap shot.
”I think it was fun. That’s what these events are for, to be creative,” Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos said. ”Patrick Kane has a pretty creative personality, and we saw that tonight. You can see it in his play. He’s one of the most exciting players in the game. Obviously, if you’re going to do something like that, this is the event to do it, and the crowd seemed to like it.”
Team Chara teammate Corey Perry also got a rise from the crowd by stopping at the blue line and throwing down his stick and gloves. He then pulled out a goalie ministick and drove in hunched over to deke past Blues goalie Brian Elliott.
”I didn’t know where he was going to stop, if he was going to take off everything,” Elliott said.
That wasn’t enough to beat Kane in the only event that was determined by a fan vote. Kane earned 47 percent of the votes texted in, beating Perry who got 29 percent of the votes.
”He wouldn’t tell me what he was going to do but he had some tricks up his sleeve,” Perry said.
In the relay challenge, the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel showed remarkable skill in the passing portion, in being uncanny in their ability to thread a pass into nets spread across the neutral zone. And making the challenge even harder was that players had to flip the puck over a raised board laid across the ice to
Thanks in part to the Sedins, Team Alfredsson won both relays to score two points and earned an additional point finishing it in the fastest time – 2:08.376 – to build a 9-6 lead over Chara.
In selecting his team, Alfredsson made sure to have the home crowd on his side by not only picking his three Senators teammates, but also several players with Ottawa connections. That included Flyers forward Claude Giroux, who was greeted with a few cheers.
The loudest cheers came for Alfredsson, who was greeted by chants of ”Alfie! Alfie! Alfie!” even before he stepped on the ice.
By comparison, Team Chara was certainly the ”visiting” team, especially when featuring three members of Ottawa’s provincial rival Toronto Maple Leafs. There were loud choruses of boos for Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Dion Phaneuf.