In the NHL's goaltending fraternity, friendships can develop through the shared experience of facing 100 MPH slap shots. At the 2012 Tim Horton
's NHL All-Star Game, a 12-9 affair in which allowing three goals in a period was considered a good night, goalies had little trouble finding common ground.
Impressive as it is for any goaltender to appear in the NHL All-Star Game, the honor comes with its share of pitfalls. After all, it's hard for a goaltender to shine when the League's most talented players decide to focus on scoring instead of backchecking and blocking shots. For the six goaltenders participating at the 2012 Tim Horton
's NHL All-Star Game, there were plenty of topics to discuss. Strategy wasn't one of them.
"Everybody went in there knowing we were going to be scored on at least three times," said Carey Price
, who allowed three goals on 15 shots for Team Chara. "Just put on your best happy face when you get scored on and strap it on and do it again."
A three-time All-Star, Price prepared as best as he could by bonding with Jimmy Howard
, a fellow Team Chara keeper who sat in the stall next to his in the squad's locker room. After getting to know each other during the course of the All-Star festivities, the two goaltenders decided who would start for their team with a spirited game of rock, paper, scissors. Howard won, earning the starting nod before allowing three goals on 14 Team Alfredsson shots.
"I didn't really know Jimmy before, so I'm really happy that I was able to spend some time with him and get to know him as a person," said Price. "I think a lot of goalies have a lot in common. The more you talk to somebody, the more you find things in common."
Like Price, Howard wasn't expecting to be named All-Star MVP. But being thrown in the shooting gallery did little to diminish the competitive nature of the Red Wings keeper, a first-time All-Star who led the NHL with 30 wins heading into the All-Star break. Even in a game known for its astronomical goal total, Howard wanted to win.
"I prepared just like I would for any other regular-season game. There's a reason why all these guys are here. It's because we're all competitors. As soon as you step out there, you want to win," said Howard, who had little trouble connecting with his fellow All-Star goalies. "We have the most in common, so it just comes naturally."
Despite facing a combined 94 shots in the game, each of the six keepers on display managed at least one highlight-reel stop and Tim Thomas
earned the win, his fourth-straight All-Star win.
And, let's not forget, there is a precedent of goaltenders stealing the show at the All-Star Game, as Mike Richter
and Grant Fuhr
were named All-Star MVP eight years apart.
But among the men patrolling the crease at the 2012 edition of the big game, the best asset appeared to be a good sense of humor.
"It's fun. We were just laughing at each other and you tip your hat at the goals out there. I don't think it's serious enough to look at game tape and try to prepare for guys. It was awesome to be a part of. Sharing it with the goalies here was incredible," says the Blues' Brian Elliott
, who allowed six third-period goals for Team Alfredsson and taking the loss.
He left Ottawa with modest advice for future All-Star keepers.
"Just try to loosen up so you don't pull a groin out there," he said, smiling.