Saturday, January 22, 2011

All-Star Game Preview!

The All-Star Game in Raleigh is next week! It's hard to believe that after waiting so long for it, it's finally almost here!

I suppose the first thing that needs to be addressed is the All-Star format this year. This is the first year with the new "Fantasy Draft" where two All-Star captains will pick à la grade school who is on their team. When the format was first announced, I wasn't overly impressed with it, but as we get closer to next weekend I must say I'm getting excited. The Canes own Eric Staal and the Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom will be the captains (with Patrick Kane and Martin St. Louis as the alternate captains for Team Lidstrom and Ryan Kesler and Mike Green as the alternates for Team Staal), and there are a lot of ways that this draft could play out. Will Staal go with kin and pick his brother? Will either player favor teammates above other players?

And, of course, the question that I can't wait to be answered - who will be Mr. Irrelevant? Having been picked close to the bottom of quite a few gym class drafts, I'll take a sort of morbid pleasure in watching the greatest of the great squirm as they hope that they're not the last one.

The toughest question to answer is who should we, as fans, cheer for? I suppose since Staal is one of the captains I will end up cheering for his team. (Also, I always by default choose red over blue - even though in this case I think the blue jerseys look more stylish than the red ones.) However, I think I'll relish the opportunity to cheer if someone like Dustin Byfuglien scores - something I could never do when he plays for Atlanta - no matter what captain's team he is on.

The roster that the captains have to pick from is pretty stacked as well. There's always grumblings about who was/wasn't picked, but let's just gloss over that. From a Canes perspective, I'm not surprised to see the tandem of Staal and Cam Ward picked, because both have been the better players on the team this year. (Minus Jeff Skinner, of course, but he was nominated to the rookie squad). I'm a little surprised that Cam did make the cut, as there are a few goalies that probably have a little better numbers and have looked a little better - but I suppose that this is when having the game in Raleigh helps out a lot.

Of course, the game itself is not the only thing going on that weekend. The Skills Competition occurs on Saturday, and I am really excited to see this as well. Specifically the "Breakaway Challenge" - because who knows what kind of moves Ovechkin is going to pull this year? The twelve rookies named to the squad will participate in the skills segment, and I'm also really curious to see how the Jeff Skinner will do - I'm betting that he's better than some of the "real" All-Stars.

And, yeah, there's this other thing going on during the All-Star weekend. The Guardian Project. If you somehow haven't heard of this (don't worry, it probably just means you don't read as many hockey blogs and/or satire as me), well, I'm sorry to have to be the one to explain it to you. Apparently the NHL teamed up with Stan Lee and created a superhero for each of the NHL teams. Which kind of maybe sounds cool to the half of me that's still stuck as a middle schooler, but to the skeptical adult side it just sounds lame. Because hockey is cool as it is... why exactly do we need superheroes to bring across the awesomeness?

Anyways, the Canes one looks like this and gains points from me for having "the calculating mind of an intellectual". And also not looking like he's carrying around a Big Wheel, like the Red Wing one. But the whole project loses major cool points for not having a woman superhero. Girls can kick ass and like hockey too, ya know...

Guardian Project aside, I am really excited for next weekend. Finally the Caniac Nation is showcased as a host, and I can not wait to see the game and experience the fun atmosphere that I know will be present.

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