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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Sunday, 01.30.2011 / 10:22 PM

By Andrew Montag -  NHL.com Fan Blogger /NHL.com - Road Trip to Raleigh

See ya later Raleigh!

I'm am writing to you from gate C20 at Raleigh-Durham Airport, and Team Lidstrom has taken the first rendition of the new All-Star format in a thriller, 11-10. Team Staal jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and the RBC Center was rocking. Cam Ward looked like Patrick Roy out there, and he was riding the energy of the crowd early on. However, Team Lidstrom surged back, knotting the score at four. The roof nearly blew off the RBC Center when Eric Staal scored on a breakaway--his first of two goals on the night. 

Patrick Sharp of Team Staal was awarded the game's MVP with a goal and two assists, but the important award, the first annual "Bridgestone MVP Award Presented by Montag" goes to Danny Briere of Team Lidstrom.  Briere had two very timely goals, along with a dazzling deke on Lunqvist in the third period to cap off the victory for Team Lidstrom. Next, I'm going to give the head-heart-hustle award to Jeff Skinner. He was all over the place! Although he couldn't find the twine, he played this game like it was the Stanley Cup Final.

Thank you to all who followed my blogs throughout the weekend, I was honored to provide you all with an inside look at the events that transpired. We should be in for a great conclusion to the season.

Over and out!

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POSTED ON Sunday, 01.30.2011 / 3:33 PM

By Andrew Montag -  NHL.com Fan Blogger /NHL.com - Road Trip to Raleigh

The net worth of the netminders

While Henrik Lundqvist will close in goal for Team Staal, the Carolina faithful erupted when Ward took the crease.

On Team Lidstrom, the goalie lineup is very strong, consisting of Jonas Hiller, Marc-Andre Fleury and Tim Thomas. Thomas is having a sensational season thus far, making a strong case for the Vezina trophy. To me, Hiller and Ward look to be the most vulnerable of the goaltending group (the two surrendered the most in the breakaway elimination challenge last night).

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POSTED ON Sunday, 01.30.2011 / 1:02 PM

By Andrew Montag -  NHL.com Fan Blogger /NHL.com - Road Trip to Raleigh

More BBQ to get this cookin'

With many great events preceding the All-Star Game, I really have a predicament. Do I go to Fan Fair and attempt to win the amateur skills title? Or do I enjoy my third dose of Carolina BBQ at NHL pregame celebration. I'm going to go with the latter. With this being my last day in the great state of North Carolina, I need to make the most of my time with the authentic BBQ.

And tonight is the big game we've all been waiting for. Yesterday I predicted team Staal by a score of 6-4 and I'm sticking with my prediction. The offensive firepower on team Staal will simply overwhelm team Lidstrom.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 01.29.2011 / 10:35 PM

By Andrew Montag -  NHL.com Fan Blogger /NHL.com - Road Trip to Raleigh

The players and the crowd make some noise

And finally, the second half of Honda NHL SuperSkills included my personal favorite event, the G Series NHL Skills Challenge Relay. The saucer passes performed at the passing stations were phenomenal. Jonathan Toews simply put on an exhibition to close out the win for Team Lidstrom.

The pinnacle of the noise levels within the RBC Center had to be when Zdeno Chara ripped a 105.9 mph slapshot into the back of the net. The arena simply exploded when the speed was shown. Unfortunately, I was a bit let down by both Rick Nash and Alex Ovechkin in this competition, but nonetheless this event was truly sensational.

Last but not least was the elimination shootout. The goaltenders were absolutely tremendous. Marc Andre Fluery and Henrik Lundqvist surrendered very little in the crease, and Team Lidstrom's shooters simply couldn't close the gap that Team Staal built up in the previous events.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 01.29.2011 / 8:18 PM

By Andrew Montag -  NHL.com Fan Blogger /NHL.com - Road Trip to Raleigh

Seeing the Skills

The first event, the Bridgestone Fastest Skater competition was highlighted by the race of the goaltenders. If it wasn't for Tim Thomas' slip, it would have been a much closer race. But there's no doubting Cam Ward looked eerily similar to Apollo Anton Ohno out there. That race was undoubtedly the fan favorite.

In the next event, the BlackBerry NHL Breakaway Challenge, PK Subban had the hopes of winning over the Carolina faithful by wearing the jersey of Hurricane teen idol Jeff Skinner. This was indeed good for second place, but Alex Ovechkin once again stole the show in completely the three-peat of the breakaway challenge. So far, I'm 1-1 on my predictions!

In the third event, we got to witness the top players in the world, literally, shoot the lights out. The marquis match-up was certainly Patrick Kane against fan favorite and hometown captain, Eric Staal. Kane was flawless in winning the duel. However, the best individual performance was delivered by Henrik Sedin who went 4-4 in the accuracy contest, bringing a roar around the RBC Center.
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POSTED ON Saturday, 01.29.2011 / 6:27 PM

By Andrew Montag -  NHL.com Fan Blogger /NHL.com - Road Trip to Raleigh

Eating and Meeting, all Satisfying

I just finished my second bbq pulled pork sandwich of the day, and once again I am utterly satisfied.  The locker rooms were open to those with proper credentials for a period of time--so I made a beeline for the Team Staal locker room. Ovie was sitting back with his arms crossed in his cubby, while Henrik Lundqvist prepared his sticks for the weekend's festivities.

Next, I ran into a brigade of team mascots, complete with full pads, sticks and skates. Mr. Bolt of the Lightning was very friendly and even took a picture with me. (Maybe he just wanted some publicity in the blog!)
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POSTED ON Saturday, 01.29.2011 / 4:43 PM

By Andrew Montag -  NHL.com Fan Blogger /NHL.com - Road Trip to Raleigh

My arrival, and theirs!

I just walked down the escalator into Fan Fair and wow, what a site! Upon entering the convention center, I was immediately bombarded by life-size images of the NHL mascots. My first stop, the accuracy shooting booth. If it wasn't for an insanely elongated line, the title would have been mine--but for now I am a mere spectator. Next up, is the hardest shot competition, if my eyes don't mistake me, the man who went before me rung of a blast of 26 mph! I would call my 66.4 mph slapshot respectable, certainly for a lacrosse player! The convention center is truly packed with passionate fans, and if I'd like to compete for the amateur skills competition crown, I'm going to have to be here bright and early tomorrow morning.

Now off to the Red Carpet for player arrivals!
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POSTED ON Saturday, 01.29.2011 / 2:25 PM

By Andrew Montag -  NHL.com Fan Blogger /NHL.com - Road Trip to Raleigh

Fan Fair and Fanfare

Just got to the Umstead hotel, (courtesy of our driver Oscar) and I am currently indulging in some quality Carolina BBQ: pulled pork sliders. Upon the conclusion of my meal, I will head directly to Fan Fair.

After Fan Fair, next up is the Red Carpet. Due to the formality of the event, I will not be sporting my authentic team Sweden Lundqvist jersey. The Carolina Hurricanes’ own, rookie Jeff Skinner, has certainly been the talk of Fan Fair. I am looking forward to seeing the ovation he receives tonight at the skills competition.
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POSTED ON Saturday, 01.29.2011 / 12:00 PM

By Andrew Montag -  NHL.com Fan Blogger /NHL.com - Road Trip to Raleigh

Making my picks

The Carolina Hurricanes fans are lining up eight-deep at every event that is part of the NHL All-Star Weekend, whether it be Friday’s player draft show at NHL Fan Fest or Saturday afternoon’s Red Carpet walk before tonight’s Honda NHL SuperSkills competition. To give you a bit of perspective—and appreciation for the “Caniac” fans—NHL.com has invited New Yorker and high school student Andrew Montag, 17, to blog his visitor’s impressions over the next two days:

Just took off from LaGuardia Airport in New York, headed for Raleigh-Durham. One hour and 20 minutes until All-Star weekend official begins for me. For those of you who don't know me, I'm Andrew Montag, a senior from Ardsley High School in New York, and I will be giving all the fans an inside look and perspective of the events that will transpire this weekend.

Upon landing, NHL Fan Fest will certainly be an early stop. All fans love interactive events, and Fan Fest certainly gets everyone involved. Tonight, beneath the roof of the RBC Center, we will all witness the top players in the world take to the ice for the famed Honda NHL SuperSkills. Here are my pre-competition predictions for the marquis individual skills events of the evening:

Hardest Shot: Zdeno Chara (in a runaway)

Breakaway Challenge: Alex Ovechkin (Can he pull of the three-peat?)

Tomorrow, the RBC Center will be filled to its capacity for the new and improved NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover. We all know how the format of the event has been revised, with the "drafting" of the team, and as a loyal New York Rangers fan, I'm putting my money on Team Staal. The hometown boy will deliver to his faithful, and Lundqvist will be stingy in net. To me, Lidstrom went with a questionable first pick in Steven Stamkos, allowing Ovechkin to pair up with Eric Staal. Final prediction: Team Staal 6, Team Lidstrom 4.

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1

I was in there icing my face as she was trying to push a baby out.

— Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf on going to the hospital with a facial laceration while his wife was in labor following Game 1 on Wednesday