Sometimes I feel like I am the only hockey blogger who loves the All-Star Game. Is it a glorified pond hockey game devoid of importance? Of course. But it’s a glorified pond hockey game featuring the best players in the NHL having a great time. Besides, is any hockey game truly important in the grand scheme of things? I think everyone should lighten up just a little when it comes to complaining about the All-Star Game and just enjoy it for what it is.
I find the All-Star Game a lot of fun. It’s nice to see the NHL’s best taking a break from treating hockey like a business and once again enjoying it as a game.
Of course, even though it is a frivolous event doesn’t mean that we can’t take our enjoyment of it seriously. I’ve taken it upon myself to make a series of super-serious predictions about the 2012 All-Star Weekend, from the draft to the skills competition to the game itself. Keep in mind, my track record for predictions is poor.
1. Who will be picked first in the All-Star draft?
This all depends on the coin flip. If Alfredsson wins the flip, he will pick Erik Karlsson. Chara, however, refuses to spill the beans. Will he pick his teammate, Tim Thomas, showing solidarity after the White House controversy? Will he pick a Senator like Jason Spezza to ensure the Ottawa crowd is at least slightly on his side?
Personally, I think that Chara and his assistant captain, Joffrey Lupul, will be incredibly boring, and pick the NHL’s leading scorer first: Evgeni Malkin.
2. Who will be picked last in the All-Star draft?
I predict it will be a forward.
But that’s not too impressive, as the defencemen and goaltenders have to be picked earlier in the draft. It has to be someone solid, yet unspectacular. It won’t be a Senator or a Bruin, because Alfredsson and Chara won’t let that happen. Prime candidates are Scott Hartnell, Jamie Benn, and Jason Pominville, all of whom are near a point-per-game this season but are not typical all-star names. I’m going to go with Jamie Benn, who is already eyeing the car the last player picked receives.
3. Who will win the fastest skater competition?
A rookie, Michael Grabner, won the competition last year and I’m thinking the same might happen again. Rangers winger Carl Hagelin has been named as an injury replacement and the guy has speed to burn.
If a veteran wins it, my money’s on Marian Gaborik, though Brian Campbell could give him a run. The dark horses in this event are Colin Greening and Milan Michalek, both of the Senators, both blazing fast.
4. Who will win the breakaway challenge?
This is the slam-dunk contest of the skills competition, except for the fact that no one actually cares about it. The results are entirely based on fan voting, so the more creative attempts will be favoured, even if they are unsuccessful. With Ovechkin choosing not to participate, the field is wide open.
Pavel Datsyuk, Steven Stamkos, and Jordan Eberle are ones to watch, but I’m going to go with Patrick Kane, who has the attitude and the skill to pull a few tricks out of his bag.
5. Who will win the accuracy shooting?
Daniel Sedin won this competition easily last year, shooting out all 4 targets before Patrick Kane had even hit 3, but it’s a tough competition to win in consecutive years. Also, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t in the contest last year, but won it in 2009. I’m confident he’ll be able to do it again.
6. Who will win the hardest shot competition?
Zdeno Chara has won 4 times in a row, increasing the speed of his shot each year, but he has some interesting competition this year. Shea Weber is the obvious challenger, actually beating Chara in the preliminary round last year, but Steven Stamkos has hit 104 mph before and Alex Edler will be one to keep an eye on in his first ever All-Star Game.
I’m intrigued to see if Jason Spezza enters, as his shot was clocked at 103.8 mph at the Senators skills competition in December.
But yeah, Chara’s going to win.
7. Who will be the All-Star Game MVP?
There’s sometimes a little streak of sentimentality when it comes to picking the MVP of the game, so if Jason Spezza gets a few points he’ll run away with it. That said, my pick is Daniel Sedin, who I expect to score like gangbusters.
8. Who will win the All-Star Game?
Team Alfredsson is going to win, mostly because he’ll have both Sedins on the team, which is why Daniel will score like gangbusters. Of course, if Chara picks one of the Sedins (either as a gesture of peace or as a dick move to keep the twins apart, whichever causes more controversy), then this won’t happen. But can you imagine the Sedin twins playing together in a game with no defence?