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Flames pair stoked to fire up All-Star Game

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Johnny Gaudreau is no stranger to torching the opposition.

But in regards to a failed bid to light his stick on fire in the breakaway competition of the 2015 All-Star Game skills competition, Gaudreau was extinguished.

Not this time.

Not yet, at least.

And he’s still fired up.

“We’ll see,” Gaudreau said. “We’ll see what activity I do in the skills competition. If I’m in the same thing, maybe we’ll talk about it and hopefully they’ll let me do it.

“Last year, [Mark Giordano] and I were on the bus to the skills competition and he’s like, ‘Let’s light you stick on fire.’ and I was like, ‘Let’s do it.’ We got into the locker room and they shut it down.

“Who knows? Maybe we’ll practice it in a couple days and see if it works. I have no idea. I haven’t tried it. Maybe we’ll give it a go in the next couple days.”

Failing the fire, Gaudreau plans on bringing plenty of heat to the 2016 NHL All-Star Game under a new format that features a 3-on-3 All-Star Tournament comprised of three 20-minute games played by divisional all-star teams.

Few, if any, best Gaudreau in the 3-on-3 format.

Only Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks has more than Gaudreau’s three overtime goals this season. The 22-year-old Flames forward adds three assists in overtime as well.

The new format works plays well into the hands of the slick, shifty sophomore.

“I think it’s exciting,” Gaudreau said. “I love 3-on-3 and our team does well with 3-on-3. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out, but I think it’ll change it up and I think it’ll be a lot of fun.”

If the format change alone isn’t enough to spice things up, a purse will. The teams are competing for a winner-take-all $1 million prize.

“It’s a million bucks,” Gaudreau said. “I think anyone would be a bit more excited to play and try to win. It’ll be a fun weekend and there’s a prize at the end too, so it should be a lot of fun.”

The figure certainly adds incentive.

Then again, any amount would, suggested Giordano.

“You could put 20 bucks on the line with the players and I think it's going to change,” he said. “I think that will help. But I think the 3-on-3 is going to be the biggest thing. It's going to be more competitive. I think it's going to be a faster game, hopefully, and more exciting for the fans.”

The players, too.

For Gaudreau, it’s his second appearance at the All-Star Game in two seasons of pro hockey. He attended last year under the Western Conference vs. Eastern Conference format.

So too did Giordano, who also earned his second invite in as many years, too.

“When I first started playing in the NHL, I would have never dreamed of getting into All-Star Games and stuff like that,” said Giordano, a nine-year NHL veteran who originally went undrafted and signed as a free agent in 2004.

“I don't forget about those days. For me, this is a huge accomplishment. I think it's a fun, exciting thing to be a part of and it's great for family and friends to come. I don't want to miss opportunities to have people there that I want around. I won't take it for granted at all.”

Especially, Giordano suggested, if he and Gaudreau can finally get that stick lit.

“We’ve got to do something,” Giordano said. “We've got to plan in advance if they have that shootout again. We'll figure something out, for sure.”

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