January 29, 2011
RALEIGH, NC -- The 2011 NHL SuperSkills competition is over, with Team Staal having vanquished Team Lidstrom. On television, we hear it was a long haul; in the arena, there were moments of electricity and personality.
Here are the top 10 most memorable moments of the 2011 Skills Competition:
1. The Introductions
Not sure how it translated on television, but the in-arena experience was striking. The highlights for each player that were projected on the ice. The music specially used for each team: "Thunderstruck" for the Tampa Bay Lightning or "Detroit Rock City" for Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) of the Detroit Red Wings or "Du Hast" (!) by Rammstein for the Philadelphia Flyers. The cool smoke gimmick that the players skated through with their names, numbers and logos. Was it perfect? Tyler Ennis(notes) was announced as a Florida Panther and Patrick Sharp(notes) was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets ... so no. But it looked cool.
2. The Goalie Race
A late addition to the fastest skater competition was one of the night's greatest moments: a 1-on-1 duel between Tim Thomas(notes) of the Boston Bruins and Cam Ward(notes) of the Carolina Hurricanes that saw the hometown goalie win after Thomas wiped out in the corner. "Not very often do I do a hard, full lap," said Ward, who won the race in 18.895 to Thomas' 19.000 seconds. "Coach Mo likes to have some skates after practice, but usually I just coast around and do my thing."
In an event that saw more misses than hits, the Pittsburgh Penguins goalie and the Montreal Canadiens defenseman provided some welcome moments of levity. Subban took his shootout attempt while wearing the sweater of hometown darling Jeff Skinner(notes) of the Carolina Hurricanes. Fleury did a 360 in the crease, jumping jacks and laid down for Alex Ovechkin's(notes) final shot.
The Vancouver Canucks forward, and member of Team Staal, when 4-for-4 in the shot accuracy competition, joining players like Jeremy Roenick(notes), Ray Bourque and Mark Messier that have achieved the feat. Sedin hit all four targets in 7.3 seconds, and then won the competition by besting Patrick Kane(notes).
VERSUS viewers heard "too much vodka last night" from the 20-year-old Colorado Avalanche center, who later tweeted: "Oh and btw, the vodka thing wasn't a personal thing, it was a joke amongst our group! Don't take it how I said it." Either way, the Russian World Junior Team has a place on the plane for you, sir.
Toews was matched up against Chicago Blackhawks teammate Patrick Sharp in the shot accuracy competition, with Sharp winning the round ... or so we thought. Turns out Toews didn't hear the whistle, and that led to a "do over," much to the chagrin of the crowd, which booed. Toews won the rematch in 8.8 seconds. After the skills competition, Toews said people were calling him a "crybaby" and that "maybe we're going to have to do it again in Chicago. Have the rubber match. Best 2-out-of-3."
7. The Skills Challenge Relay
A new event that combined one-timers, passes sent into small nets, skating with the puck and then shot accuracy. At times it dragged but it was an impressive display of different skills -- especially in elevating the puck over obstacles. Said Marty St. Louis: "It's a lot harder than it looks. The passes have to be good to hit those little nets. That's tough."
Nasty move in the elimination shootout by San Jose Sharks rookie Logan Couture against Tim Thomas. Just nasty.
The elimination shootout saw the goaltenders take out offensive players left and right, but Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks had the touch in winning the final event of the night - including a goal scored against his teammate, Jonas Hiller(notes).
The best battle of the night. Weber is chosen by Team Lidstrom in the hardest shot competition, and Team Staal matches Chara against him. Weber beats the king of the event with a 104.8 MPH blast to Chara's 104.1. The two advanced to the finals where Chara made history: a 105.9 MPH shot to break his own record. "I thought he was saving something," said Weber. "I knew he was going to do it sooner or later. I was really hoping he was going to run out of shots."