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Tavares a standout in skills competition

by Katrina Doell / New York Islanders
It’s the event where NHL players get to show off their creative side.

For the last 12 years, the Skills Competition has been one of the highlights of NHL All-Star Weekend because it lets fans see the players perform tricks and skills that they don’t have the chance to see during a regular season game. For John Tavares, it was the perfect opportunity to shine.

Tavares participated in three events for Team Alfredsson - the breakaway challenge, the skills relay and the elimination shootout. In his first event, the breakaway challenge, Tavares dazzled the crowd with two great breakaway attempts. 

His first attempt wasn’t the prettiest of tries, prompting teammate Michael Grabner, @grabs40, to tweet: JT did a great "Grabner breakaway" impression for people who are wondering what that was.. #nervs

But the second two prompted @easportsNHL to tweet: #Tavares with the lacrosse style goal = best so far #NHLAllStar #isles

JT does have a background in lacrosse and his uncle, also named John Tavares, is a legend of the sport. Did he solicit advice from the career points leader of Major League Lacrosse for any advice?

“I probably should have,” he said with a laugh. “l think the lacrosse background probably had a little influence and provided some comfort level for me. I just tried to be creative and that’s something I thought I could pull off.”

Tavares did confess to asking a few other players for advice and that he looked at video.

On his third try, he came down the ice with the stickhandling skills he’s known for and buried the puck passed Carey Price.

Tavares also participated in the skills challenge relay. He was on his strong side in the right wing corner, ripping one-timers. His group included Alexander Edler, Keith Yandle, Scott Hartnell, Daniel Sedin, Craig Smith, Claude Giroux and Jason Pominville, and they finished in an event-best 2:08. Team Alfredsson swept the event.

When asked by All-Star Captain Daniel Alfredsson about why he picked JT he said “I played against him, but I haven’t seen him up close, so I talked to Zenon Konopka,” the NHL’s longest-tenured captain said. “He said you have to get him on your team. He is going to help you win. He has unbelieveable hands. I saw that up close today.”

In the final event of the night, Tavares participated in the elimination shootout where he advanced three rounds to help Team Alfie to the final score of 21-12.

Tomorrow is the big day, however, and Tavares is looking forward to the game itself.

“I can’t wait,” Tavares said. “The game is what it’s all about and what I watched as a kid and dreamed about playing in one day.”

As far as linemates and who he’s looking forward to playing with?

“I would be intrigued to see how it would be to be in the telepathy of the Sedins.”

How "Swede" that would be.
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