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Sharks, NHL All-Stars Have Super Skill

by Alex Aragon / San Jose Sharks

Sharks' Devin Setoguch and Montreal's Carey Price chat before the YoungStars Game

The Honda SuperSkills competition featured the NHL’s elite competing in their best events respectively. Below is a breakdown of each event.

Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater
Winner: Andrew Cogliano, Edmonton Oilers

Cogliano flew out of the gates in this year’s Honda Super Skills competition pulling a perfect turn around the net on the first half lap. He lost a lot of speed around the net on the second half of the lap, but his stride is powerful and his foot speed is quick, easily making up any lost time in the home straight away. Cogliano was the sixth and final skater, edging out Philadelphia’s Jeff Carter who had been in the lead until Cogliano posted the winning 14.31.

It was somewhat surprising that Patrick Marleau was not selected for the Fastest Skater competition. In 2006 at the Super Skills competition in Dallas, Marleau put up a blazing 14.08 lap time, losing narrowly to then Anaheim center Andy MacDonald. That same 14.08 would have won the competition this year.

However, it was refreshing to see the NHL return to the fastest skater format as a full lap around the ice rather than the goal line to far blue line experiment that we saw last year.

Scotiabank NHL Fan Fav Breakaway Challenge
Winner: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

In the NHL’s version of the slam-dunk contest, Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf once again put his incredible hands on display for the crowd. Getzlaf, who was one of the standouts in last year’s Breakaway Challenge scored on an attempt reminiscent of the famed University of Michigan goal in the NCAA Frozen Four that has since been immortalized in an Enterprise Rent-A-Car commercial.

Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin’s first effort was déjà vu for hockey fans as he attempted to recreate the legendary goal he scored against Phoenix’s Brian Boucher, who now backs up Evgeni Nabokov in San Jose. Ovechkin then followed up by collaborating with fellow countrymen, Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, to put on a hat, some sunglasses, have a quick sip of Gatorade and proceeded with the shootout. He scored on the subsequent attempt and garnered over 40 per cent of the fans’ vote to successfully defend his title.

YoungStars Game presented by Upper Deck
Winner: NHL Rookies defeat NHL Sophomores, 9-5
MVP: Blake Wheeler, Boston Bruins

Devin Setoguchi got on the scoresheet, scoring early in the third, six-minute frame on a nice feed by Atlanta’s Bryan Little. However it was Boston’s Blake Wheeler and the NHL Rookies that won the decision with Wheeler completing the hat trick in the second and adding a fourth goal in the third.

Setoguchi was robbed of an assist early in the first when Little rang a shot off the left post. Setoguchi had another scoring chance later in the first, stickhandling through two players, but was denied on his quick backhand to forehand attempt.

The only hit of the scrimmage came in the second period when Rangers defenseman Marc Staal took Dallas forward James Neal into the boards, then finished the play by converting on a two-on-one. Neal tried later in the second to throw a hit on Little on the half-boards, but the Thrashers sniper quickly spun away.

McDonald’s NHL Shooting Accuracy

Winner: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

All four passers chosen were from the Western Conference with both Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau called upon to for set up duty. Joining them were Anaheim’s Scott Niedermayer and St. Louis’ Keith Tkachuk.

Malkin, receiving passes from Thornton and Tkachuk, hit four-of-four in the first round. Ottawa’s Dany Heatley, receiving passes from Marleau and Niedermayer, also went four-for-four in the first round. Malkin and Heatley squared off in the final with Malkin shooting first. Malkin hit his first three targets, good for seven-in-a-row, but missed his eighth and final shot, going seven-for-eight overall.

Heatley needed at least three-of-four targets to force a third round, but was unable to extend the competition. Perhaps the most interesting storyline in the accuracy contest was by the defending champ, Toronto’s Tomas Kaberle. The sharp-shooting Maple Leafs blueliner was lethal in Atlanta last year earning the victory with pinpoint accuracy, but went just three-for-eight in the first round.

Cisco NHL Hardest Shot
Winner: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

Crushed. Bombed. Vulcanized.

Chara set a new NHL record with a blistering 105.4 miles per hour (169.6 kilometers per hour) blast. Chara broke Al Iafrate’s long-standing record of 105.2 set at the 1993 NHL All-Star Celebration which was also hosted here in Montreal, but contested at the famed Montreal Forum.

Boston’s hulking blueliner defended his title from a year ago when he stunned the crowd at Philips Arena with a 103.1. Nashville’s Shea Weber earns honorable mention for hammering a 103.4 in his second attempt, but was surpassed by the final blast of the night.

Gatorade NHL Elimination Shootout
Winner: Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes

In all, it took seven rounds to name a winner with Doan edging out Boston’s Marc Savard for the title. San Jose’s Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle were each stopped on their first attempts, eliminating them from the shootout for the remainder of the competition.

Patrick Marleau scored on his first two attempts, one on a nifty move before sliding the puck five-hole, the other on a backhander that went top shelf. But it was Marleau’s third attempt that was one of the more memorable attempts of the night. The Sharks leading goal scorer moved in from right to left when Boston goalie Tim Thomas went for the poke check. Thomas missed with his stick and Marleau appeared to have a wide-open net, but the Bruins keeper made a thrilling, acrobatic stop and kept the puck out with his stickless blocker hand.

Doan, Savard and Colorado’s Milan Hejduk placed first, second and third respectively to conclude the action packed night.

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