Things got off to a rollicking start with the Bridgestone Fastest Skater competition at the RBC Center.
Team Lidstrom and Team Staal finished the preliminaries tied at 3 points each before Team Lidstrom's Michael Grabner
won the final with a thrilling come-from-behind defeat of Edmonton's Taylor Hall
. The two young blazers also met in the preliminaries, with Grabner winning that heat as well. In fact, the Islanders' Grabner had the two fastest times in the seven-race card, finishing the lap in 14.061 in the preliminaries and winning the title with a time of 14.238. In the final, Hall was clocked in 14.751. Team Staal won the event 5-3.
Perhaps the highlight, though, was the race betyween gaolies Tim Thomas
and Cam Ward
in the middle of the preliminaries. Boston's Thomas fell during the lap, but still almsot caught Carolina's Ward at the end.
By the way, the player introductions were awesome. Not only was the colored steam drape that the players skated through completely mesmerizing, but so was the idea of the players coming out to music associated with either his team or city. The coolest example, of course, was the four Hurricanes coming out in order at the end of the ceremony to the blaring sounds of the classic "Rock You Like a Hurricane" that is omnipresent at any game at RBC Center. But both the Philadelphia Flyers
contingent, which came out to Rammstein's "Du Hast" and the Boston Bruins
grouping, which came out to the Dropkick Murphys' "Shipping Up to Boston" get honarary mention in our minds.