-- The honor roll of past winners in the McDonald's Accuracy Shooting competition is Hall of Fame caliber, top shelf, dead-on, you might say.
The names? Ray Bourque, who won it five times since the event started in 1990, including a 4-for-4 lights-outer the last time the All-Star Game was here in Montreal (1993), plus three shared titles. Mark Messier and Brendan Shanahan were both two-time winners. Jeremy Roenick has won three times. Peter Forsberg, Keith Tkachuk, Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa are past winners.
There are lots of hockey fans who think Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin
, just 22 and the NHL's leading scorer with 51 assists and 70 points, will no doubt loft into the same starry category. He won Saturday's accuracy shoot-off , going 4-for-4 in the first round, then 3-for-4 in Round 2, just barely missing the fourth target.
Ottawa's Dany Heatley was also perfect in the first round, but went 2-for-4 the second time around.
Funny thing -- Malkin was so efficient the crowd barely knew he was 4-of-4. He didn't explode any of the McDonald's logo targets, he simply hit all four circles comfortably in the allotted 18 seconds.
Whap, whap, whap and whap.
"I have not tried before," Malkin said when asked if you can think too much during an accuracy contest, when there is no goalie or no defender swiping at the puck and your pads. "For me, it was the first time. There was no pressure. It was easy, not hard."
Tell that to some of the competitors, a number of whom struggled to hit the targets and needed six or seven shots to hit two or three. Iginla hit all four, but required seven tries.
Iginla said the best strategy is "pick the easy one to start" among the four targets, which are 15 inches in diameter and attached to the goal posts, one in each corner. For the Flames' star, that's upper left.
Miss early, though, he said, and "you start picking them out" -- and thinking too much.
That was not a problem for Malkin on Saturday night in Montreal.
Author: Bob Condor | NHL.com Editor-in-Chief