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Penguins Report: All-Star Skills Competition

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Pens All-Stars talk about the Skills Competition (10:42 PM).
  • Blogging the Skills Competition (7:35 PM - 9:33 PM).
  • Full results of the Skills Competition (11:05 PM).
  • Precious photo of Geno and Tanger (9:06 PM).
  • Format and lineups for the Skills Competition (7:01 PM).
  • Pics from around the decked out Scotiabank Place (7:13 PM).
  • All-Star Player Media Day pics part I (12:30 p.m.) and part II (12:37 p.m.).
  • "The crowd is here, the lights are on and they want a show..." (12:00 PM).

11:06 PM:
A couple more pics to wrap up the evening...

PensTV was clutch in grabbing Malkin's head on a stick from a box on the concourse, LOL (left); Letang and Neal's stalls were side-by-side in the Team Alfie locker room #awe (right)

11:05 PM:
By the way, Team Alfredsson won by like 44-19. Well, it wasn't that bad, but you get the idea.

The full results of the Skills Competition can be found here.

10:42 PM:
We caught up with all of your Penguins All-Stars after the Skills's what they had to say.

Evgeni Malkin

On his night:
Yeah, I enjoyed it. The players are my friends and I think the players did a great job tonight. The fans loved it.

On what they talked about on the ice:
We just talked about hockey, what you’re going to do in the shootout, what’s your move. It’s just funny stuff. We tell some stories. Just everything.

On if he gave Neal or Letang a hard time:
Yeah, I asked James what he’s going to do in the shootout and he said he’s just going to shoot the puck. Nothing special, no new moves. But it’s just enjoyable and fun. And it’s fun meeting players too.

On if he’s optimistic they’ll see Sidney Crosby back on the ice:
I think yes. He’s worked hard every day and he’s feeling better every day. I hope he comes back of course and we have a great chance to win the Stanley Cup.

On if this is as fun for them to watch as it is for the fans:
It’s fun for us to watch too. We watched Zdeno Chara make a new record. We wait, wait, wait and it’s fun to watch. We enjoy it too.

On Patrick Kane’s Superman cape:
(Laughs) Oh, it’s a great move. He’s one of the guys who practiced before, I think. It’s not the first time. He thought of what he was going to do before and did a great job, too.

James Neal

On the target shooting:
I couldn’t hit that bottom one (laughs). I was hitting the post there.

On how difficult it really is:
I’m sure they look a lot bigger on TV then they really are. it’s a little tougher when you haven’t shot the puck much and you’re standing around. It’s still fun. The relay is cool. You’ve got everybody doing different things. It’s a fun event.

On what they talked about on the ice:
Just the same chirping back and forth that always goes on. Geno’s on the other team there, so he was giving it to me a little. But all in good fun.

On what stood out the most to him:
Just everything. Such a cool event to be a part of. All the events, it just shows how highly skilled every guy is and all their moves are pretty good. (Steven) Stamkos obviously showed his moves in the shootout.

Kris Letang

On the night:
The whole thing is pretty fun. It’s for the fans. It’s something we do to show the skill that there is around the league.

On the funny antics:
You have to show something a little different, a bit of a different look. To have fun, it’s the key in those types of events.

On Sidney Crosby:
I’ve always been behind Sid. I was supporting him when he went through this because I kind of had the same problem at the same time. The only thing I wish is that he gets better.

On the Fastest Skater:
It went well. It was good to have the chance to go backwards and forwards. It showed different aspects of mobility. It was great.

On that being harder than it looks when everyone’s watching:
It’s a normal stride, but I was actually really nervous at the beginning because you’re not really that warm and you want to give a good show. You don’t want to trip and fall into the boards. It’s something that looks easy, but it isn’t. You’re pretty nervous.

On what they talked about on the ice:
It was great. Every year I go through the All-Star weekend I have a chance to meet all the guys and talk with them. It’s a great experience.

9:33 PM:
Malkin is up again and Lundqvist has to do the splits to keep him from scoring! The puck bumps the post and skitters into the corner. Geno's out.

Anddd Letang is eliminated as well when he's stopped after pulling the puck behind him, kicking it off his skate and shooting it. Your Pens All-Star reps are done in the Skills Competition after a great showing!!!

9:30 PM:
While wearing a backwards hat and chewing gum, Letang stickhandles Jimmy Howard out of his pads and sweeps the puck into a small opening. He's still in it!

9:27 PM:
Neal is the next Pen to go. He does a bunch of stickhandling and tries to slip a one-handed backhand past Tim Thomas, but gets the puck pokechecked away. It's ok. He's still the Real Deal James Neal.

9:23 PM:
The fifth and final event of the All-Star Skills Competition is under way.

Malkin is the first Pen to go. He bears down on Lundqvist, goes right-left-right and smoothly tucks the puck through the goalie's five-hole! What a beauty.

And to think Geno said this last night...

"It’s tough to do the shootouts because I’m not a great shooter. But we’ll see (Saturday) when I do it. I’ll try to score and do my best. I’ll try to make the fans love it."

9:12 PM:
Hardest Shot competition just took place. Do you even need me to tell you who won? Yes, it was Chara with a 108.8 mph slapshot. That's a new record for the Hardest Shot competition.

     "I'm surprised goalies don't just move out of the way when he shoots"

9:06 PM:
What a great photo from Getty Images of Malkin and Letang:

8:49 PM:
There was a 15-minute intermission after the Accuracy Shooting was completed. Then it was onto the Skills Challenge Relay.

Team Alfredsson's Letang and Neal both went in Relay 2 of the first half. Tanger (wearing a backwards hat) did the one-timer leg of the Skills Challenge Relay from the top of the circles. He had to hit the net three times in the allotted time, and did so on no more than 5 attempts.

Neal was the last player to go in Relay 2. He had to get them done quick enough to ensure that Team Alfredsson would beat the time of 2:45 set by Team Chara for Relay 1. And he was able to do just that, as he hit the fourth target at 2:28.

Malkin was the second-to-last player to go for Team Chara in Relay 3 of the second half. He dribbled through a series of orange pucks for the stickhandling challenge and rocked it. Unfortunately, Team Chara's overall time of 2:14 wouldn't be enough for Team Alfredsson, who finished in 2:08.

8:03 PM:
Two hilarious occurences just took place during the Breakaway Challenge:

Right before Chicago’s Patrick Kane was about to go, teammate Marian Hossa came over with a pair of Clark Kent-esque glasses (thick black rims) and a red Superman cape. Kane donned both and bore down on Brian Elliott before diving on the ice like he was flying like Superman and pushed the puck in with his right hand! Oh, and he did it while Eminem's "Superman" played over the loudspeakers.

He then went again a little later and took a slapshot that broke the puck into four pieces. That Superman doesn't know his own strength. #Epic

Then Anaheim's Corey Perry started down the ice...stopped...dropped his stick and gloves...and pulled a mini-stick out of his equipment to use! He was bent in half stickhandling with it, but somehow managed to beat Elliott!

7:43 PM:

Quick observation. Is there anything funnier slash awkward than goalies racing each other?! Watching Jonathan Quick and Jimmy Howard go head-to-head made me laugh out loud. Especially since Howard had a helmet cam on.

I wish I could tweet all the responses I got to this question I posed on the website writers' handle, @PensInsideScoop. Here's one of the best:

     "@PensInsideScoop they look like aircraft carriers turning"


7:35 PM:
Letang was matched up with Florida's Brian Campbell for the Fastest Skater (backwards) event to kick off the Skills Competition. And No. 58 and his hair easily beat out the Panthers D-man to defend the title!

You can watch the race right here:

7:13 PM:
They're doing the player introductions now. They're shaping up to be quite lengthy, which means I believe now would be a prime time to send you around Scotiabank Place...

7:01 PM:
Here's a quick breakdown of how the Skills Competition is going to go:

There are six events:

1) Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater
2) Allstate Insurance NHL Breakaway Challenge
3) Canadian Tire NHL Accuracy Shooting
4) G Series NHL Skills Challenge Relay
5) BlackBerry NHL Hardest Shot
6) Tim Hortons NHL Elimination Shoot Out
  • Malkin (Team Chara) will be competing in the stickhandling leg of the Challenge Relay and the Elimination Shootout.
  • Letang (Team Alfredsson) will be competing in the Fastest Skater (backwards), the one-timer leg of the Challenge Relay and the Elimination Shootout.
  • Neal (Team Alfredsson) will be doing the target shooting leg of the Challenge Relay and the Elimination Shootout.

For a full list of the format and rules, click here.

The staff made their predictions earlier...what are yours, Pens fans?

7:00 PM:
Alright guys. We've been without Internet here at Scotiabank Place for the last hour or so, so I apologize for the lack of updates. There will be plenty to come, I promise!

5:05 PM:
I'm finally all set up in the media workroom here at the Scotiabank Place for the 7 p.m. Skills Competition. I walked around the arena once I got here and got more pictures for your viewing pleasure. They'll be posted soon, but for now here's a teaser...

12:37 PM:
And now here's some photos of Pittsburgh's All-Star representatives. The pics are very Geno-centric, as he spoke the longest of the three Pens. About 12 minutes in English in addition to a lengthy Russian interview and stops at some of the TV networks.

He sat at the same table as friend and countryman Pavel Datsyuk of the Red Wings

Doing interviews with Alyonka Larionov andTSN

Letang and Neal used the same podium when it was their turn

12:30 PM:
As I mentioned earlier, Friday was All-Star Media Day for the players here in Ottawa. Team Chara went from 4-5 p.m. while Team Alfredsson went from 5-6 p.m. The guys were brought out into the ballroom of the Westin in groups. The podiums lined the perimeter of the room while the center was set aside for TSN and NHL Network's live sets. Needless to say, it was packed and crazy.

In addition to the stories I posted yesterday, I also got a bunch of pics. Here's some of the overall event...

Joffrey Lupul did a lot of interviews

Jarome Iginla don't need me to tell you who's on the right

12:00 PM:
Hello everyone! Today marks the third day of our 2012 All-Star weekend coverage. On Day 1, we brought you a running blog of the Player Fantasy Draft and everything that went with that. Day 2 was Player Media Day, where we caught up with Team Chara's Evgeni Malkin and Team Alfredsson's James Neal and Kris Letang about playing each other on Sunday.

Now tonight will be the NHL All-Stars Skills Competition, which will take place at 7 p.m. at Scotiabank Place. That will be our first time heading over to the rink and it's sure to be decked out something fierce, so we'll be sure to get you plenty of pics. And, of course, all the coverage of the event itself. We also talked to the guys about their respective events last night, and they're looking forward to giving the fans a show.

So let's start the day with one of my favorite songs of all-time: Lupe Fiasco's "Superstar" featuring Matthew Santos. Sam played it last year, but I'm putting it in the blog again because it's definitely fitting for these All-Stars.

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