As far as the Dodge/NHL SuperSkills competition is concerned, nobody had it tougher than Detroit Red Wings
goalie Chris Osgood
After being forced to face one breakaway after another in the YoungStars Game, Osgood was one of the goalies asked to participate in Saturday night’s main event at Phillips Arena -- the Breakaway Challenge. By the end of the night, Osgood probably didn’t know which event was which.
On top of that, the former New York Islanders goaltender was heckled by the enthusiastic crowd during the YoungStars Game, which was won by the Eastern Conference in a 7-6 decision.
“There were all over me when I was on the Island, too,” Osgood joked. “They don’t forget things here. Don’t forget, they had the Atlanta Flames here for a while, so they do have a good core group of hockey fans. When I used to come here with the Islanders, they would be all over me from the start of the game. I expected it. I was kind of just standing around, and the next thing I know I’m in the thick of breakaways. But it was fun.”
Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin came out on the winning end of the Breakaway Challenge, edging out Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks. Both made dazzling moves during the competition, none sweeter than the hand-eye coordination Ovechkin showcased, as he batted the puck several times before attempting to smack a home-run drive past Osgood.
“He was going for style points,” Osgood said. “He had some great moves. I talked to him a bit before about it. I said I wasn’t going to come out and pokecheck him or anything that would not allow him to do it. It’s almost got to be choreographed with the goalies.”
Getzlaf was asked what went through his mind when he was forced to face the offensively gifted Ovechkin in the finals. The Ducks’ power forward chuckled and shrugged his shoulders.
“What is he going to do? How far do I have to go to get there?” Getzlaf said. “We were talking earlier today on how far we should go. It was good to see some guys go to the edge a little bit. There’s a lot of things that guys do in practice that nobody ever sees.
“I think it was fun,” added Getzlaf, who has 19 goals this season. “I think I didn’t really know what was going to the edge or not. I think it’s a great event. The fans liked it, and we had fun with it.”
So did Osgood, who believes the competition will only become better in future years. Now that the players have a year to practice before the All-Star festivities in Montreal in 2009, it’s almost scary to think what some of these players will be able to come up with by then.
“There could have been more tricks in the last one,” Osgood said. “I think the guys are just starting to learn about that. I thought it was a lot of fun. The guys got to show their skill today and do some neat things with the puck. That was the main thing. It was definitely entertaining throughout.”