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Posted On Saturday, 01.28.2012 / 11:16 PM

By Jimmy Howard -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Jimmy Howard's 2012 Tim Horton's All-Star blog

Despite loss in Fastest Skater, Detroit's Howard enjoys himself

As part of All-Access All Things All-Star coverage on NHL.com this weekend in Ottawa, Detroit Red Wing goalie Jimmy Howard will be blogging his thoughts and experiences as one of the under-fire goalies in the skills-saturated All-Star Game. Here's his second entry, all about his thoughts on the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday night at Scotiabank Place.
 
KANATA, Ont. -- What a special night. To be rubbing shoulders with the best in the NHL, never in my wildest dreams before this season did I think I would be here at Scotiabank Place for the Skills competition, but it was amazing.
 
Of course, what wasn't amazing was my showing in the Fastest Skater competition. I wrote Friday that it was the one event that I wanted no part of, but as a first-time All-Star I didn't think it was my place to go up to Zdeno Chara and tell him to take me out of it.
 
He probably wouldn't have taken to a demand quite well.
 
So, I had to do it, and I have to admit, I was shaking a little bit before I got up to the blue line and waited for the whistle. Then I almost went down in my turn so, I was like, 'Let's pull it back here and be extra cautious.'
 
It wasn't so much that I was worried about my health because I trust myself on skates, but I definitely didn't want to be the guy that went flying into the tires. On that turn I said to myself, 'Take it nice and slow and get across the blue line.'
 
I didn't want to turn into some type of YouTube sensation, you know, the NHL goalie that blows his tire and flies into the tires.
 
That would probably sit with me for the rest of my career.
 
So, I got smoked by Jonathan Quick. It was pretty bad, basically to the point where Quickie could stop and look back at me.
 
It's OK, though. The rest of the night was a blast. I thought it was so clever to see Patrick Kane pull out the Superman cape and then the glasses just topped it off, but it was also fun watching Corey Perry take it back to the mini-stick days in the Breakaway Challenge.
 
I didn't get to be a goalie in that event, but it was fun watching Carey Price and Brian Elliott have a good time with it. Price even went no-look, turning his back on one of the guys.
 
I had a few things up my sleeve that I would have pulled out if I was in that Breakaway Challenge. Most of them were ideas I got from Chris Osgood, who tells me all about some of the crazy stuff one of his old partners, Kevin Hodson, used to do.
 
Maybe I'll save all of my tricks for next year. Hopefully.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.28.2012 / 5:49 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Sticks used in Hardest Shot Competition

Defensemen generally use stiffer sticks, which produce harder shots. Forwards typically want light sticks, which allow for greater stick-handling ability ... The 'stiffness' of a stick means how hard it is and typically varies from a flex of 80-120. 'Flex' is a measure that tests how much a shaft will bend; the higher the flex, the more force needed to bend the shaft of the stick.

TEAM ALFREDSSON TEAM CHARA
Player Stick Player Stick
Justin Faulk Easton SE Luke Adam Bauer TotalOne
Daniel Alfredsson Easton RS Dennis Wideman Bauer Vapor APX
Jason Spezza Easton S19 Dion Phaneuf Easton SE16
(EQ Pro Model)
Shea Weber Easton S19 Zdeno Chara Warrior
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Posted On Saturday, 01.28.2012 / 5:45 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Skates used in Fastest Skater Competition

Skates have a lot of variables – hollow, rocker, boot. Every NHL player has a custom skate to fit their particular liking ... Stiff skates allow for more torque so they don't break down ... Skates are sharpened by preference, but most are done before or after the morning skate ... A 1/2” hollow is pretty standard for most players in the League – not too deep, not too shallow and gives a little bit of ability ... The amount of hollow is based on personal preference and style of play, among other things. A heavier player typically doesn't need as deep of a hollow compared to a lighter player. A deeper hollow allows for more grip of the ice ... The rocker (curvature to the blade) affects how much blade is on the ice – more blade on the ice = more power ... Marian Hossa wears '38' on both skates on the outside heel of the blade in honor of Pavol Demitra.

TEAM ALFREDSSON TEAM CHARA
Player Skates Player Skates
Kris Letang Bauer TotalOne Brian Campbell Bauer TotalOne
Carl Hagelin Reebok 11K Colin Greening Bauer Vapor
Keith Yandle Reebok 11K Phil Kessel Bauer Vapor X60
Erik Karlsson Bauer Vapor X7.0 Marian Hossa CCM U+

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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 8:43 PM

By Sean Couturier -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Sean Couturier's 2012 Tim Horton's All-Star blog

Rookies visit hospital, get Skills assignments

As part of All-Access All Things All-Star coverage on NHL.com this weekend in Ottawa, Philadelphia Flyers rookie Sean Couturier will be blogging his thoughts and experiences. Here are some of his thoughts on Friday’s activities:

OTTAWA -- As I wrote yesterday in my blog, I thought Friday was going to be the down day of All-Star Weekend -- but as it turns out, it was a pretty eventful one.

My teammate Matt Read and I went to the children’s hospital pretty early this morning at 9 a.m., along with Ottawa Senators rookie Colin Greening to visit some sick kids. It was just great to see how excited the kids were to see some NHL players visiting them. But to be honest, I think we did as much good to the kids as they did for us. When you can make a sick kid smile, it’s truly priceless. Getting a chance to see the kids so happy and forgetting their problems for just a few minutes honestly made my day.

Of course, the kids had another good reason to be so happy because the hospital was unveiling a new games room where they’ll be able to play Xbox, watch TV, go on the Internet or talk to their parents via webcam. It was pretty impressive.

Some of the kids were playing NHL 12, and some of them were pretty good! I would have liked to sit down with them and play a bit, like I do with Danny Briere’s sons, but our schedule was a bit too tight to fit in a game.

After we were done at the hospital the rookies hung out a bit, giving us a chance to get to know each other better. We’re all having a fun time.

I also got a chance to get away and have lunch with my parents and my girlfriend for a couple of hours, something I don’t often get a chance to do during the season. After that I relaxed in my hotel room for a bit before heading over to Media Day.

That’s where I found out I’ve been picked to take part in the Breakaway Challenge, which is both a good and bad thing. I’ve never done anything where I had to do trick shots before, and with so many people watching this event I’m really going to have to get creative and come up with three great moves that people will want to watch. I can’t just do the same one three times!

I never told anyone I wanted to be in this event, and no one asked me, but now that I’m there I’m going to have to do the job. But it’s not going to be easy. To be honest, I’m feeling a bit of pressure.  

Still, I won’t let that ruin my Friday night where all the Flyers who are here are going out for dinner with our families. It should be a fun night. We might talk hockey a bit, but I don’t think I’ll have time to come up with my trick moves for Saturday night.

Whatever I come up with, I hope you’re all watching!


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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 6:29 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Phaneuf: Canadian flavor adds to All-Star buzz


OTTAWA -- Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf said Friday that having the NHL All-Star Game in a Canadian city has added a new level of excitement for him.

"Look at the city, you can feel the buzz," Phaneuf said. "This is the first one in a Canadian city that I've been to, and it's an honor to be here. To take part in an All-Star Game in a Canadian city is a lot of fun. They're doing a great job of hosting this event."

Phaneuf was then asked a question pertaining to Alex Ovechkin's absence from the event.

"He's entitled to make his choice," Phaneuf said. "I know I'm enjoying being here."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
 
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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 6:28 PM

By Jimmy Howard -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Jimmy Howard's 2012 Tim Horton's All-Star blog

Howard: All-Star experience is a surreal one

As part of All-Access All Things All-Star coverage on NHL.com this weekend in Ottawa, Detroit Red Wing goalie Jimmy Howard will be blogging his thoughts and experiences as one of the under-fire goalies in the skills-saturated All-Star Game. Here's his first entry, eginning with his thoughts on being pulled after the first period of his last game, a 7-2 loss to Montreal in which he allowed four goals in first period.

OTTAWA -- By the end of the first period of Wednesday night's loss the writing was on the wall. Pierre McGuire was right there in between the benches and I figured I would be sitting next to him doing color commentary on the NBC Sports Network for the rest of the night.

You know what, over the course of the year, you understand as a goalie that you're going to have those games. To have only two like that in 50 games so far, I'm very thankful for it, but they happen.

I don't know why, but I felt really good in warmups on Wednesday. But, the Canadiens came out, we were a little bit flat, and they rolled us. However, one of the things that I think has made me successful is having that short-term memory. I went in to talk to our goalie coach, Jim Bedard, for about five minutes and he calmed me down.

I had to just start looking forward to the All-Star Weekend. It is great to be here.

It's my first time here so I was really nervous coming in on Thursday. You walk into a room filled with guys from around the League that you respect so much. You sort of just have to pinch yourself because you still can't believe that you're able to be a part of these festivities with them.

It's still surreal for me. It was surreal at the Fantasy Player Draft, too.

I was waiting back there in the green room with Keith Yandle, and once Daniel Alfredsson and Henrik Lundqvist picked Brian Elliott, I said to him that I should just walk out on stage because they don't even have to announce my name. They had to take all the goalies by the 10th round, and I was the last one standing.

I knew they had to take me eventually, so maybe I should have just walked out there and taken a seat.

It doesn't matter that I was the last goalie taken. I'm excited to be here, and, most importantly, I'm excited that all my friends and family are here as well. I grew up in Ogdensburg, N.Y., which is just down the 416.

Now, in terms of the Skills competition on Saturday, I've been told that I'm the goalie for Team Chara that will compete in the Fastest Skater competition. Of course I am because that was the one I told them I didn't want to do. I know I'm going to be awful at it. I think I'm a pretty good skater, but I don't think I'm that fast.

But, win or lose, I just hope that I don't do what Tim Thomas did last year in Carolina and fall. I'm not sure if he did that on purpose. I have to ask him.

We'll see how I do. I'll write about it Saturday night.
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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 6:26 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Benn ready for action at All-Star Game

The 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game will be Jamie Benn's first action since having his appendix removed on Jan. 15. He says he's ready to go, and he wouldn't be here this weekend if he wasn't.

However, he also said that the timing of the All-Star break is perfect because odds are he would have missed a few more games if the season never stopped.

"I only missed five games, which isn't too bad I guess," Benn said Friday. "It was good timing, and I'll be ready to go after the break here. I'm looking forward to it."

The Stars are back in action Wednesday at Anaheim. However, Benn isn't necessarily thinking about that right now. He's enjoying his time in the spotlight as one of the best players in the game.

His appendectomy aside, just being here is important to him and it's why he says he received a vote of support from Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk.

"I had some talks with Joe Nieuwendyk and the doctors, and Joe wanted me to be here and I wanted to really come," Benn said. "It's a good experience being here. It's something I'm taking all in and I'm learning. I'm getting to see the guys and see what they do. I'm having fun with it. We're here for a good weekend."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 6:25 PM

By Jason Spezza -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Jason Spezza's 2012 Tim Horton's All-Star blog

Spezza: All-Star Game is a time to reflect, catch up

As part of All-Access All Things All-Star coverage on NHL.com this weekend in Ottawa, Senators forward Jason Spezza will be blogging his thoughts and experiences as one of the player hosts of All-Star Weekend. Here's his first entry, detailing a whirlwind Friday:

From the time I got  up this morning until 8:30 or 9 o'clock tonight, I'll be doing stuff. But, it's exciting because it is in Ottawa and it is at home and you want to give  back to the fans. I'm excited about the Energizer Skate tonight because we are trying to build rinks around the city and raise money for that. It's a little disappointing that the Rideau Canal isn't frozen. Usually you can guarantee on Jan. 27 that the canal would be frozen. But the Rink of Dreams at City Hall is built and the rink has pipes -- that is why they built, in case the canal isn't available. I think it is great for the city to have that second option. Obviously, the canal is something special, so it's a little sad the canal isn’t up and running, but we'll make it work.

Today, being around the guys and interacting with different guys makes it a fun day. I did an autograph signing this morning at Fan Fair and it was mostly kids -- and that is what you want to see. You want to see the kids come out and enjoy it. It's been a long day and a busy day, but it has been worthwhile.

For me, I'm more comfortable in these situations now. You see familiar faces and you are not as nervous. Once you go through something once, you realize you want to take some time and soak everything in and make sure you remember it because you never know when you will get another chance. That's been my approach over the past couple of days and will be all weekend. I want to make sure I enjoy it and my family enjoys it and that I soak it all in.

It's fun to see the excitement of the guys that are here for the first time and the young guys. I remember how it was to be that guy. I'd love to get the opportunity to talk to everybody on the team and to some of the younger guys. For me, there are still some guys I want to meet. You play and compete against each other, but you all respect each other. That never gets lost in a setting like this.

I got a chance to talk to Pavel Datsyuk a little bit; he is a guy that I really respect. I sat with Evgeni Malkin at the draft. Shea Weber is a guy that I enjoyed playing with at the World Championships, and it was nice to catch up with him. There's always different guys that you lose touch with a little bit and these events bring you back together.

I've heard a lot about Erik Karlsson having a bit of fun at my expense Thursday night at the draft, but that’s OK. Erik doesn't have a lot of material. We're really good  friends, and we have a really good relationship. It was fun. We had a good time. I was happy we could sit together. He's a really lighthearted kid, loves to have a good time, is a jokester and has a real passion for the game, so it is fun for everybody else to see how he is. The guys in our dressing room already know what his personality is, but it is good for him to get the recognition nationally.
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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 4:50 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Lupul still laughing over getting booed during draft

OTTAWA -- The boos Joffrey Lupul heard during Thursday night's fantasy draft were hard to ignore. So the Maple Leafs All-Star who was hearing it from the Senators fans in attendance instead had a good time with it.

Teammate Phil Kessel said he was surprised by the anger directed toward teammates Lupul and Dion Phaneuf.

So was Lupul.

"Yeah, I was a little surprised," Lupul said during Friday's media day. "But that's good. It was fun. The whole thing was fun. If we're getting cheered in Ottawa, that's probably worse. That means we're not doing our job. The rivalry is starting to heat back up a bit. Their team is having a great season and we want to catch them."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 4:23 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Iginla talks about new faces, skills competition

OTTAWA -- Jarome Iginla, at age 34, knows he's not one of the younger players at this year's All-Star Game.

But his veteran status won't help him out when it comes time for the captains to pick who is doing what during the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition.

"You kind of ask afterwards. 'Oh, what do you have for me?' Iginla said during media day. "Maybe as an older guy you have some say if you don't really like the event. I think they ask a little bit, like who wants to be in the fastest skater. That one you have to be up for. You don't want to see a big discrepancy in times.

"Maybe some guys take a long to warm up, eh?"

Iginla was asked if this year's game was a chance for some players that aren't necessarily in the spotlight can make a name for themselves with superstars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin absent from the festivities.

"I think there's a lot of skill and yeah, maybe guys who are keyed in on Crosby and Ovechkin, maybe they can enjoy the excitement and dynamic players the NHL does have," Iginla said. "There are a lot of great young guys."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp