MONTREAL -- Carey Price
missed more than half a month with an ankle injury, and Patrick Kane
has been hampered by a similar problem since Dec. 30.
Not only are the two second-year sensations here for NHL All-Star Weekend, they wouldn't want to be anywhere else. In fact, unless they couldn't walk, both Kane and Price, starters for the West and East, respectively, had plans of showing up.
"This is something I have wanted to do my whole life," Price told NHL.com. "I grew up watching this game. It has always been the pedestal of hockey -- other than the Stanley Cup Final, obviously."
Price returned to action Tuesday night in Atlanta when he replaced Jaroslav Halak
. He hadn't played since Dec. 30, but he looked good and shifty in making nine saves on 10 shots. He gave up four goals on 29 shots against New Jersey the following night.
Kane, meanwhile, injured his ankle in Detroit on Dec. 30 and played through a great deal of pain in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field two days later.
He hasn't been the same since.
Kane missed two games, but returned Jan. 8 and had an assist. He has gone pointless in his last seven with a minus-4 rating and said he hopes to gain confidence from this All-Star experience to break out of his slump.
He can do it by winning the Scotiabank NHL Fan Fav Breakaway Challenge on Saturday night.
"I tweak my ankle once or twice a game and it doesn't feel great, but you rarely get opportunities like this to be at an All-Star Game so you are not going to take time off," Kane said. "It's something you dream about as a kid. Just watching the competition, the breakaways and things like that. You always want someone to pull something fancy and now you're in the spotlight to do it, so you want to be a part of it. I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to love it."
-- Dan Rosen
Campbell likes new/old format --
Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell
finished second in the Fastest Skater competition last season as a member of the Buffalo Sabres
. However, the competition last year had the challengers clocked in a blue-line to end-line sprint.
That's not Campbell's forte. He's more of an around-the-rink speed skater, so he's happy the competition has been returned to its original form -- a complete lap around the rink from a standing position at the center ice boards.
"I'm better at doing laps, so I'm glad it turned into doing laps and not straight away," he said. "I'm going to try to stay off the boards as much as possible."
Campbell's competition is Jay Bouwmeester
, Jeff Carter
and Zach Parise
-- Dan Rosen
Info overload --
Almost to a man, every player involved in the Gatorade NHL Elimination Shootout happily pleaded ignorance about what awaited them in Saturday night's event.
Usually, information about another player's tendencies is considered priceless information. But, this is not the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It is just the All-Star Game.
Montreal's Alexei Kovalev
will face Boston's Tim Thomas
in the competition, and these two are intimately familiar with each other. They play six times against each other during the regular season and met in a tense seven-game playoff series last spring. Kovalev has had two shootout/penalty shot situations against Thomas without scoring.
Yet Kovalev said he has no idea what Thomas will do Saturday night when they go head-to-head.
"We just want to have fun out there and not embarrass ourselves," he said
Thomas also said he wouldn't be plundering his mental book on shooters to remember what moves Kovalev likes.
"I don't want to know," he said. "Not tomorrow night. I just want to have fun."
Lundqvist also said he will keep his notes on shooters untouched. He says he only had one rule he was going to follow from now until the SuperSkills is complete Saturday evening.
"You don't want to trash talk anybody because if you do, you know they will come back to score against you," Lundqvist said.
Then, to practice what he was preaching, Lundqvist refused to admit that he got the best of the trade he made with Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere
after the goalies finished a drawing that determined the nine shooters each goalie would face.
Giguere wanted to face his close friend, the high-scoring Martin St. Louis
of the Tampa Bay Lightning
. St. Louis was on Lundqvist's roster, so the Ranger goalie happily offloaded him, asking for Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas
St. Louis owns 17 goals this season and 225 for his career. Robidas has two goals in 2008-09 and 29 overall.
"I don't know if I gained anything in the trade," Lundqvist said stoically.
--Shawn P. Roarke
We be jammin' -- Montreal Canadiens
General Manager Bob Gainey was all smiles as he conversed with fans and posed for pictures inside the big tent at the Lay's NHL All-Star Jamboree.
Gainey was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992 following a splendid career with the Canadiens that spanned 16 seasons and 1,160 regular-season games. He scored 239 goals and dished 263 assists.
The native of Peterborough, Ont., knows how much the locals have anticipated the return of the All-Star Game to the city.
"The fans' anticipation was represented in the way they voted and how often they voted and I know it represents a lot of excitement and participation by our Montreal Canadiens
fans and others," Gainey told NHL.com. "We had four players voted onto the starting team and you could debate that any way you like, but, to me, it means the people are engaged, they're enjoying it and looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a very fun and festive weekend in Montreal."
Goalie Carey Price
(1,515,885 votes), defensemen Andrei Markov
(1,443,091) and Mike Komisarek
(1,373,628) and forward Alex Kovalev
(1,343,301) -- were all voted in by fans in the XM NHL All-Star Fan Balloting presented by 2K Sports earlier this month.
--Mike G. Morreale
All systems go --
The theory that star players are too good to be traded can be debated at the 2009 All-Star Game, when you consider that Tampa Bay dealt defenseman Dan Boyle
last summer to San Jose -- and now Boyle is playing in his first All-Star Game.
Two other players -- Chicago's Brian Campbell
and Mark Streit
of the Islanders -- changed teams via free agency in the offseason.
So was Boyle an All-Star unnoticed in Tampa Bay? Or has he become a star because of his switch to San Jose?
"I'm the same player, I swear," Boyle said. "No change, except I'm here for the first time."
Sharks center Patrick Marleau
has played on World Championship teams with Boyle and he thinks it's all about new coach Todd McLellan
's system of having defensemen move up into the offense.
"Dan has always jumped up on the play," Marleau said. "He's always had a system that works for him ... and now his system (and McLellan's) works for us."
-- Larry Wigge
Golden thought --
"You don't want to trash talk anybody because if you do, you know they will come back to score against you."
-- Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist talking about the Gatorade NHL Elimination Shootout
Ottawa's Dany Heatley
may have been sitting in Montreal, but for a few minutes during Friday's All-Star media availability, he had a different Canadian city -- Vancouver -- on his mind.
Vancouver is the site of the 2010 Olympics, and Heatley made it explicitly clear that he hopes to be there come next February, again representing Canada. Heatley played for Team Canada in the 2006 Olympics. He has also represented his country at the World Cup of Hockey, the World Championships and the World Junior Championships.
"I'd love to go," he said. "It's going to be in Vancouver, and every Canadian guy is going to be extra-pumped about that."
With 21 goals, Heatley appears poised to reach the 40-goal plateau for the fourth-straight year. Will that be enough to get him on the team, which will be chosen by Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman
Heatley isn't sure. But he had a simple solution to the problem.
"I'll just have to play even better," he said.
--Shawn P. Roarke
We are the world --
Speaking of international hockey, NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly
said during his news conference Friday that plans for the next World Cup of Hockey are moving forward.
The NHLPA would prefer to see the next tournament played in February 2012 to stay within the Winter Olympic "footprint," he says.
"We believe the eyes of the hockey world would be trained on our sport more in late February than in early September, especially in the United States," he said.
September 2011 would be the most likely date if the more-favored February 2012 date falls through for any reason. The September date is one of the few windows available on the global major sporting events calendar, as both the FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympics would come into play if the NHL tried to go any later than February.
The last World Cup of Hockey, held in 2004, was won by Canada.
--Shawn P. Roarke