July 30, 2015


NHL

So skilled they amaze each other

'Wow, I've never seen that before'

OTTAWA -- Daniel Alfredsson is under no illusions heading into tonight's skills competition at Scotiabank Place.

For Team Alfredsson to win the hardest shot competition, he says, something will probably have to go terribly wrong for Team Chara.

Zdeno Chara of Boston is heavily favoured in hardest shot competition.

ANDRE RINGUETTE / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Zdeno Chara of Boston is heavily favoured in hardest shot competition.

Or more specifically, for Chara himself.

Chara set the NHL record for the hardest slapshot -- a blistering 105.9 miles per hour -- at last year's All-Star Game in Carolina. Alfredsson says the combination of Chara's size (6-9, 255 pounds) and the length of his stick makes it unlikely anyone on his side can top him.

A year ago, however, Shea Weber at least gave him a challenge and Alfredsson is hoping that will happen again.

"From our side, Weber would be the closest guy and hopefully, he's got some new technology in his stick or something he can take use to take advantage," said Alfredsson. "Those are the two strongest guys in the competition, I think."

Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Carolina Hurricanes rookie Justin Faulk will also compete in the hardest shot competition for Team Alfredsson. Chara's side will also include Dennis Wideman, Dion Phaneuf and Buffalo Sabres rookie Luke Adam.

One of the more intriguing aspects of the skills competition is that the all-stars themselves often stop and stare themselves, in awe that the very best talent is around them.

"I can see Weber challenging him for the hardest shot, maybe, but I don't think anybody can break his record," said Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Kimmo Timonen. "That guy (Chara) is a monster, a big, big man, so I don't know if anybody can beat him."

In addition to the hardest shot competition, the event will include the always entertaining fastest skater competition, an accuracy shooting display, a shootout and a breakaway challenge.

Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who is serving as an alternate captain to Chara, was self-deprecating as he described the process of helping to pick who would do what for his side in the competition.

"Well, Phil (Kessel) and (Marian) Hossa and (Brian) Campbell were in on the fastest skater, because all those guys can fly," he said. "You try to find things that guys are good at. The hardest part for me was finding something I was good at. I didn't fit in too well with the (Pavel) Datsyuks and (Evgeni) Malkins."

Personally, Timonen says his favourite part of the competition is the shootout.

"There's so much skill out there," he said. "I like to see what these guys come up with. Sometimes you're like, 'Wow, I've never seen that before.' That's one of the things I want to see (Saturday)."

Senators rookie Colin Greening, the lone Senators representative who will compete for Team Chara this weekend, has a chance to win the fastest skating competition.

"I think I'm going to have to focus and not get awestruck," said Greening.

Ultimately, though, the goal for all the players is to celebrate the moment and try not to take themselves too seriously. The way Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price sees it, it's about entertaining the fans.

"It's fun to be able to go out there and just ham it up a little bit, be a part of it, because at the end of the day, we're just going out there to try and put on a show," Price said.

 

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 28, 2012 C3

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