OTTAWA – There was no shortage of highlights from Saturday’s skills competition.
Anytime a key player is sidelined with an injury or suspension, his teammates talk about the need to step up in his place. There may not have been any points in the standings on the line at Scotiabank Place, but heading into All-Star weekend without the services of some of the league’s top talent and superstar showmen – Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby in particular – provided an opportunity for a few other stars to shine.
Donning a cape and Clark Kent glasses for his first attempt in the Breakaway Challenge helped Patrick Kane channel his inner Superman to earn a point for Team Chara in the skills competition. But if fans had been able to text in their votes for goalies, Kane might have had some serious competition from Habs netminder Carey Price.
“It was fun just to be a part of it and to be able to go out there and do things you normally wouldn’t do in a game,” described Price, who made stops while doing 360s, covering his eyes, turning his stick upside-down and even showcasing his own version of Tebowing on John Tavares. “Yes, it was an attempt at a Tebow – it’s not so easy when you have all that goalie equipment on, though. I just did everything on the fly. As soon as the player stepped up to the puck I just figured out something to do.”
Back in the net to close out the evening in the Elimination Shootout, Price allowed five goals on eight shots – stats that are a little more impressive given the 24-year-old Hab was also giving his own play-by-play of the action during the event.
“It was hard at times because you’re trying to talk to somebody and you’re trying to stop pucks at the same time but I really enjoyed it,” shared Price, who was mic’d up for CBC throughout the evening. “The whole shootout, I was talking to people the entire time. I wasn’t really that focused.”
Seeing Price let his personality shine through came as no surprise to Jarome Iginla, who has had a chance to see the young netminder in action at the 2009 and 2011 All-Star Games in Montreal and Carolina, respectively.
“He’s a pretty entertaining guy. He comes in and has fun and you can see he has fun on TV and during the game,” described the Flames captain. “I thought it was great. I know we were missing a couple of very big stars but I thought it was still fun to be on the ice and watching it.”
Taking part in his first skills competition, Raphael Diaz also enjoyed watching his Canadiens teammate ham it up for the crowd. But the 26-year-old rookie wasn’t letting himself get too comfortable before going head-to-head with one of the league’s best.
“He was so fast – really, really fast,” marveled Diaz on following Team Chara teammate Pavel Datsyuk in the puck control segment of the relay event. “It was hard to do it because my body wasn’t warmed up but I just gave everything on that. It was a lot of fun. I was laughing on the bench a lot. I had a really good time.”
While there were plenty of highlights to draw on from the evening, there was one feat of strength from Team Chara’s captain in particular that unanimously impressed the NHL superstars and rookies in attendance.
“For sure it was the shot from Chara – that was a really hard shot. I think that was the best thing of the night,” suggested Diaz of the Bruins’ defenseman’s 108.8 mph shot, before adding he would still be willing to block that howitzer in a game. “Yeah sure, you know, you do whatever it takes. It’s really hard if he shoots from the blue line and you block the shot, but those are things you have to do.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.SEE ALSO:All the videos from the skills competitionCongratulations to our All-StarsAll-Star media day
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