The NHL All-Star break officially began yesterday and GM Place was notably quieter today as the team takes advantage of the five-day break to recharge their batteries.
Both captain Roberto Luongo
and young forward Mason Raymond
will stay busy in Montreal for the All-Star weekend festivities. Luongo, a Montreal native, is not expected to participate in the All-Stars Skills Competition this Saturday, January 24, 2009, but will play in the All-Star Game on Sunday, January 25, 2009.
The decision to take part in the All-Star Skills Competition has ultimately been left up to Luongo to make, although he and General Manager Mike Gillis discussed the concerns that he could injure himself.
Gillis has also requested that Luongo play the first period of the All-Star game, although he was not voted as the starter. The thought is that it would be less likely to re-injure his groin if he played warmed up, rather than sitting for two periods and coming in cold in the third. However it is unlikely the NHL will make this change.
If there was any doubt that Luongo would not be ready for the All-Star game after returning from a groin injury that kept him out of action for 24 games, he erased it with an impressive and reassuring performance against San Jose on Tuesday.
Raymond will play in a non-stop, wide-open game of three-on-three in the NHL YoungStars Game on Saturday, January 24th at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
The speedy winger will play alongside the high-scoring NHL sophomore class including Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals, Bryan Little of the Atlanta Thrashers and Devin Setoguchi of the San Jose Sharks.
The sophomores will face rookie goaltender Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets and other top first-year players in the YoungStars Game, showcasing the best of the League's young talent. The 10-player sophomore and rookie teams will face off as part of the 2009 Honda/NHL SuperSkills (7 p.m., ET, CBC, RDS, VERSUS). This marks the sixth consecutive YoungStars Game at All-Star Weekend and the first under the sophomores vs. rookies format.
Canucks action resumes on Wednesday, January 28th when the Nashville Predators pay a visit to the Garage and Gillis believes that as Luongo returns to form the team will regain the high level of play they showcased in November going 8-1-2 before Luongo’s injury.
"With Roberto on top of his game and our team playing hard and playing well, we're competitive with the top teams in the league,” said Gillis.Check out All-Star Weekend festivities:
a series of live streams centred on All-Star weekend
, continuing today at 4pm PST is available on the NHL Network.