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A Second Time Around

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Rick Nash will be playing in his second National Hockey League All-Star game on Wednesday night in Dallas, but he wasn’t really expecting to be there.

"It was exciting to get picked," said Nash of the notion of being a surprise All-Star selection this season. "Obviously there are guys like (David) Vyborny and Sergei (Fedorov) having great years that probably should have been going, but I’ll take it.

"I’ll go and have fun with it and it should be a good weekend."

Nash gave the unselfish answer, but he is second on the team in goals with 13, trailing Sergei Fedorov by only one goal, and second in assists with 17, trailing only David Vyborny (30). He is second on the team with 30 points as well, trailing only Vyborny who currently has 40.

There are four other players headed to the All-Star game with between 28 and 34 points, with various games played but going nonetheless. The list includes the Phoenix Coyotes Yanic Perreault and the San Jose Sharks Jonathan Cheechoo.

The 22-year old Toronto native has been good in bunches this year, for example scoring six points in his first three games, 3-3-6. He then had a stretch of five games not long after, when he again had three goals and three assists. Add to those groups of games a 15-game time span where he scored six goals and dished out nine assists, and Nash has looked like an All-Star.

The now two-time All-Star has missed seven games on the season, although nowhere near the number of games he missed early in the season last year, it has had a small effect on his numbers. He missed 28 games before Dec. 15 due to two sprains (ankle and knee) last season, while this year he has stayed healthy minus five games recently (back) and two in November.

Despite the missed games recently, Nash will go to the All-Star game and play on Wednesday. So, what does he think about going to the game this time as compared to his first time in Minnesota ?

"The first time, I was more star struck," Nash said of being the first teenager to play in an NHL All-Star Game since 1992, back in 2004. "It was an unbelievable experience. This time it’s more of an honor just to represent the Blue Jackets."

Nash represented Columbus Tuesday night at the SuperSkills competition, but prior to leaving said it was unknown which events he would be a part of in Dallas.

"I’m sure they’ll have something for me to do in the skills contest," Nash said. "We find out the day of (the competition)."

Two of the events Nash competed in were the exact same contests he did back in 2004. In the individual puck control, Nash raced down the length of the ice and then carried a puck around and between cones back to the end of the ice where he had began. He beat out Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, earning one point for the Western Conference.

Later, in part two of the shootout with the goalies, Nash could have had another flash back to 2004 when he went up against New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur. This time, Nash faked a back hand shot and then tried to slide the puck past Brodeur on his forehand side. However, he missed the net and the Eastern Conference captured the point for that part.

In the event called 'In the Zone,' Nash was paired with Yanic Perreault and Ed Jovanowski of the Phoenix Coyotes. Each group of players had to pass the puck around before taking a shot on the goaltender, Montreal's Cristobal Huet. However, none of the three players could get the puck past Huet.

The 2007 NHL All-Star Game will be broadcast on VERSUS 8 p.m. tonight, live from Dallas. This is the first All-Star game since 2004.

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