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Bear Essentials: All-Star Saturday

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
10:56 p.m.

Bruins Stars Shine at All-Star Weekend
Chara Breaks Hardest Shot Record; Wheeler Takes Home YoungStars MVP; Savard Finishes Second in Shootout and Thomas eliminates Malkin, Ovechkin and Kovalev

Defenceman Zdeno Chara, of the Boston Bruins, takes a shot during the Hardest Shot contest at the NHL All-Star Superskills competition in Montreal on Saturday Jan. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Paul Chiasson)
Montreal, PQ - Bruins captain Zdeno Chara broke the 16-year-old NHL SuperSkills Hardest Shot record Saturday night at the Bell Centre and captured his third consecutive Hardest Shot crown after recording a 105.4 MPH blast in the competition.

Chara recorded triple-digit blasts of 100.4 MPH in 2007 and 103.1 MPH in 2008 to win the Hardest Shot titles the last two years.

The previous Hardest Shot record was 105.2 MPH, held by Al Iafrate since 1993.

In doing so he won $24,000, which will be donated to the charity of his choice, Right to Play. On Thursday, Chara issued a charitable challenge to the five other competitors in this year’s Hardest Shot contest, and they all accepted. Each contestant wagered $1,000 of their own money and the winner of the contest will then donate the funds to the charity of their choice. Additionally, each of the player's respective teams agreed to contribute an additional $1,000 apiece and the NHL and NHL Players Association contributed $6,000 apiece, bringing the total ante to $24,000.

The other five competitors in the contest were Shea Weber (NSH) who finished second with a 103.4 MPH shot, Mike Komisarek (MTL), Mark Streit (NYI), Vinny Lecavalier (TBL) and Sheldon Souray (EDM).

Right To Play is an international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world.

Alex Ovechkin, of the Washington Capitals, collides with goaltender Tim Thomas, of the Boston Bruins, during the Elimination Shootout during the NHL All-Star Superskills competition in Montreal on Saturday Jan. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Ryan Remiorz)
Chara wasn’t the only Bruin to take home hardware on Saturday however. Rookie Blake Wheeler recorded a game-high three goals to help lead the Rookies to an 8-5 victory over the Sophomores in the 2009 YoungStars Game and earned the YoungStars Game Most Valuable Player Award.

Additionally, Marc Savard finished second the Elimination Shootout, bested only by Phoenix’s Shane Doan. The Elimination Shootout featured 36 skaters and four goalies. Shooters that scored on their attempt move on to the next round, with each scoring attempt officiated in accordance with NHL shootout rules. The winner of the contest was the player who scores in the final round.

Finally, Tim Thomas was spectacular throughout his portion of the Elimination Shootout. Although there was no official goaltending competition, Thomas was bested only four times in the first round when the Bruins goalie eliminated Staal, Streit, Campbell, Malkin and Ovechkin.  In the second round, Thomas stopped his teammate Chara and Kovalev and went on to eliminate Marleau.

9:03 p.m.
It's Timmy (and Savvy) Time
Eastern Conference All-Star Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins makes a pad save on Alex Kovalev of the Montreal Canadiens during the "Gatorade NHL Elimination Shoot Out"
The goalies are not really in competition, but we'll keep track of what Thomas does in goal and how Big Zee and Savvy do shooting.

It sounds as if Tim gave away the real reason he traded for Kovalev. He told Versus he didn't want to see all right-handed shooters.

First Round: Chara beat Lundquist. Savard beat Backstrom.

Savvy to Versus: "I had my move planned before i went in...I was just hoping it would go in, and it did."

Timmy stops Staal.
Timmy stops Streit.
Timmy stops Campbell.
Bouwmeester beats Thomas.
Modano beats Thomas.
Timmy stops Getzlaf. Getzlaf beats Thomas.
Timmy stops Malkin.
Timmy stops Ovechkin.
Kovalev beats Thomas.

Marc Savard, of the Boston Bruins, scores on Bruins temmate Tim Thomas during the Elimination Shootout during the NHL All-Star Superskills competition in Montreal on Saturday Jan. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Ryan Remiorz)
Second Round: Tim stopped Chara with a two-pad stack. Savvy beat Backstrom on the backhand -- very nice.

Timmy stops Chara.
Hejduk beat Thomas.
Timmy stops Kovalev.

Third Round: Savard beat Backstrom(?).

Timmy stops Marleau.

Fourth Round: Tim stops Savard.

Fifth Round: Lundquist stops Savard.

Sixth Round: Savvy beat Timmy.

Seventh Round: Savard vs. Doan for title. Doan scored. Savard stopped by Lundquist.

8:46 p.m.
It's time for the big one...
The screen reads 105.4 MPH which was the speed of the record setting shot by Eastern Conference All-Star Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins in the Cisco Hardest Shot during the Honda NHL Superskills competition as part of the 2009 NHL All-Star weekend on January 24, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
Zdeno Chara is up next with the Hardest Shot Competition.

Chara to Versus on his "side bet" for charity...
"The idea is to make it more competitive and more challenging and more exciting for fans. I'm just thankful all the guys went along with us, and the teams, and the NHL...It should be fun...[My charity] is 'Right to Play,' and hopefully I can do it, so we'll see."

Big Zee is wearing a Black & Gold "Right to Play" touque.

Zdeno Chara wins. He shot a puck at 105.4 and $24,000 goes to Right to Play. That's a new All-Star speed record.

The runner-ups, were...
2.) Weber, 103.4
3.) Souray, 102.3

Chara's first shot was actually 103.3, so I guess Zee was first and third. JB

8:39 p.m.
On to accuracy!

Wow. Savvy has a tough road to hoe. Malkin and Heatley are four-for-four.

Savard was three-for-seven and did not advance. He told the guys on Versus that he is "more of a set-up guy, anyway."

Malkin wins a tiebreaker with Heatley. He went three-for-four in the second round.

7:49 p.m.
Team Rookies Luke Schenn, right,, of the Toronto Maple Leafs, skates past as Team Rookies' Patrik Berglund, left , of the St. Louis Blues, and Blake Wheeler, of the Boston Bruins celebrate during the YoungStars game at the NHL All-Star weekend in Montreal, Saturday Jan. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
It's time for the YoungStars game.

Blake Wheeler is the Bruins lone participant in this year's edition -- Milan Lucic, who was a standout in last year's game, had to stay home with an injury this season.

Coach Julien is on one of the benches.

We've got three, six-minute, periods.

Wheeler passed to Berglund for the first goal for the freshmen. Then he hit the post on his second shift before he went five hole on Carey Price. On his third shift of the first, Price stopped Wheeler and Blake shot wide to end his turn.

It was 3-1, Rookies after The First. By my count, Wheeler had three shifts, one assist, one goal and four shots.

Wheeler started the second with an assist on another goal by Berglund. Then, he scored on a nice backhand of a rebound. Blake missed on a similar shot with under a minute to play and then Price stopped another Wheeler bid with the glove.

At the end of the second it was 7 - 4, and Wheels had three shifts with one assist, one goal and three shots.

Wheels scored on his first shift of the third and then went skates over teakettle.

Final score was 9-5, Rooks. Blake Wheeler was the MVP of the Game!

Wheeler to Versus: "The point of the game was to have fun...All-Star experience has been incredible."

7:29 p.m.
Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin celebrates his goal as he takes part in the Breakway Challenge during the NHL All-Star Superskills competition in Montreal, Saturday Jan. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
Now we're doing the Fan Fav Breakaway Challenge. This is the NHL equivalent to the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest.

Patrick Kane is first. He scored a couple, with the most impressive a behind the legs snap shot stick side high.

Martin St. Louis did not score, but had at least two or three moves that had people jumping. One was a lacrosse style move.

Ryan Getzlaf had a Mike Legg lacrosse style goal (look it up). Pretty nice.

Alex Kovalev went for a more hacky sack, soccer style set.

Steve Stamkos with a dive, to hand, to stick to goal, goal.

Alex Ovechkin with a show stopping prop goal -- he was wearing a safari hat, with a Canadian flag, and carried two sticks.

We'll find out the winners, later. My money is on Ovechkin. JB

7:23 p.m.
Parise is up for fastest skater. Wonder if they have to carry a stick or if it's optional.

Parise, 14.59
Carter, 14.43
Campbell, 14.50
Bouwmeester, 14.59
Raymond (tripped)
Cogliano, 14.31 -- Winner

7:07 p.m.
My "Here we go..." was a little early. We have the introductions, first.

Sheldon Souray and Mark Streit both got pretty big welcomes from the home crowd. So did Vicent Lecavalier.

Tim Thomas (boos). Zdeno Chara (boos). Marc Savard (boos).  All of the Bruins had big smiles on their faces when the catcalls rained down.

6:58 p.m.

Alright. Here we go...

The first event is the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater. Parise, Carter, Campbell, Bouwmeeter, Ryamond, and Cogliano are in this one.

There is a bit of a musical interlude to start.

6:03 p.m.
Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard.
We got 'em (the guys on the red carpet). Fun times too -- have I mentioned it's cold?

The SuperSkills starts up at 7:00 p.m. on Versus in the United States.

Just by way of description: The media contingent for this is say, four times what we had in the Bell Centre for the last game of the first round last season.

And the building is doing a pretty good job staying clean and feeding and keeping everyone relatively happy. Kudos to the Habs, for that.

Food options right now are simple -- hot dogs. But they are some of the best press room hot dogs in creation. Toasted, buttered roll and plenty of them.

Thinking on what I've seen today, the scene when the YoungStars bus showed up at Gare Windsor was something like what I've seen in newsreel footage of the Beatles arriving in America back in the 1960's.

This includes adult men and women running down the street after the bus in order to get a glimpse of the young hockey players walking off the bus.


4:45 p.m.
Just got in from trailing Blake Wheeler down from the hotel and onto the red carpet. And I just found out that I may be able to greet Savvy, Zee and Timmy, too.

I'll post more in a bit.

1:38 p.m.
Johnny Bower and Tim Thomas
Asked about his red, white and blue uniform, Tim Thomas was quick to point out his pads.

"I'm still wearing Black & Gold," he said with a laugh. "When they annnounced my name I heard a few boos.

"It makes me feel comfortable, actually."

It's certainly nothing new, that's for sure. But then, for Thomas, neither is being an All-Star.

"So far, I'm just relaxing," said Thomas. "I think I am ejoying this year even more."

Tonight, however, the skills competition could be another story.

"That's going to be challenging," said Thomas. "If you look at my list, I got a tough draw."

Um, yah.

Here is Tim's set of shooters in the Gatorade NHL Elimination Shootout (including his results against the competitor in regular season shootouts).

Player, team, (goals/attempts)
Eric Staal, Carolina (0-0)
Mark Streit, Islanders (0-1)
Brian Campbell, Chicago (0-0)
Jay Bouwmeester, Florida (0-0)
Mike Modano, Dallas (0-1)
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim (0-0)
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh (1-2)
Alex Ovechkin, Washington (1-3)
Alex Kovalev, Montreal (0-2)

Reminded that he had actually chosen to face Koavalev, Thomas just chalked that decision up to building the drama.

"I just did that for fun," he said. "I figured we are Boston and we're in Montrel and the fans would love it."

Thomas admitted that he didn't often think about playing in All-Star games when he was a little boy in Michigan -- not as a goalie, anyway.

"Nope, it never crossed my mind," said Thomas. "I don't think it crossed my mind to be in the All-Star game, period.

"And when I was playing garage hockey I was always pretending to be a forward - I was Steve Yzerman.

"It's been a great journey," he said.

1:19 p.m.
Boston Bruins teammates Marc Savard (91) and Zdeno Chara (33) have a laugh during Eastern Conference hockey practice for the NHL All-Star game in Montreal Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009, (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
Found in the Montreal Canadiens locker room postpractice, Marc Savard looked like a little kid on a playground.

And when asked about his hockey roots, the forward admitted that this year's All-Star game holds special meaning for him.

"I grew up in Ottawa," he said. "And being up the road, and with my dad being a big Habs fan his whole's special to be in their [locker] room and see the history that they do have during their 100 years."

That said, each of the Boston Bruins contingent was (defiantly?) wearing some Black & Gold this morning.

"Obviously, I think we took the biggest boos," said Savard, with pride. "You know, [the Boston vs. Montreal] rivalry is one of the biggest in hockey, for sure, and me, Timmy and Zee continue to get our boos, but it's a lot of fun.

"You know, we're here and the crowd was amazing out there for a shoot around, so it's pretty special."

Savard was asked who he would be skating with on Sunday night.

"I don't know," he said. "I've been trying to talk my way into some linemates and I think I've put a couple of ideas in [Claude's] head, but we'll see what he decides."

As for the experience of it all, Savard said being an All-Star is better than he imagined.

"I think that's the nicest time -- when you are on the ice -- it feels really good," said Savard. "Being out there with the guys, throwing the puck around a bit is fun...but it's all special.

"And it's such a media frenzy, especially up here in Montreal, it's just incredible and I've never seen anything like it, but obviously I am enjoying every minute," he said.

11:39  a.m.
Shootout drill! The crowd loves it. Off to the postpractice presser.

11:24 a.m.
They are interviewing Coach Julien on the big scoreboard -- boos. Ha!

There were more cheers after he finished his talk.

11:22 a.m.
Tickets are still available for tomorrow's All-Star Game. I'm shocked.

11:12 a.m.

Gordie Howe
Gordie Howe elbowed me in the stomach this morning -- I kid you not -- so the day has started out pretty darn well.

Bruins head Coach Claude Julien just rallied his talented temporary troops at center ice for the beginning of the Eastern Conference All-Stars practice.

Strange to see Zdeno Chara in red, white and blue in any context and it's comforting to see Blake Wheeler in his white, Black & Gold away jersey.

The YoungStars compete in their own jerseys later this afternoon.

Tim Thomas just took his warmup shots and Marc Savard is tooling around looking very happy.

The Bell Centre is packed for this practice and the ovations have been resounding.

Earlier, Guy Carbonneau and Coach Julien held a press conference and did a good job of not reminding everyone that they are coaches on opposite sides of one of the most heated rivalries in sport.
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