Thursday, January 25, 2007

Better . . .

Last night's NHL All-Star Game was more akin to a professional production than the "let's put on a SHOW!" effort the previous evening for the Young Stars Game and Super Skills Competition. Part of it was that the guys on the ice are the best salesmen for the sport the league could ask for. Equal parts good time and competitive edge, the game also served to point out that the league really is more than Sidney Crosby (or Alex Ovechkin).

16 players accounted for the 21 goals in the 12-9 Western Conference win. 26 players had points (Sidney Crosby not being among them). The big Eastern line of Crosby, Ovechkin, and Brendan Shanahan was held to a single point -- Ovechkin's goal (assisted by Daniel Briere -- imagine that) in the second period.

But there was the venerable Joe Sakic with four assists, Brian Rolston and Rick Nash chipping in two goals and two assists, respectively, for the West. The story for the West was the unsung all-stars -- Lubomir Visnovsky had a goal and an assist and was +4. Rolston was +5. And Yanic Perreault wrote the next chapter in his unlikely season by scoring a pair of goals and having a +5 night. Uncharateristically, though, Perreault lost 9 of 15 draws. The Peerless suspects he'll take that trade for a night, at least. Marian Hossa had four helpers for the East, and Daniel Briere was 1-4-5, +5 for the East to win him the game's MVP award (prognosticated, accurately of course, by this author).

Some guys struggled. It was not a night to be a Tampa Bay Lightning representative, as the pair of Lightning -- Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis went a combined 1-1-2, -9. Crosby and Simon Gagne were -4, apiece. The goalies were, as one would expect abused mercilessly (21 goals on 77 shots -- 27.3 percent shooting percentage). Martin Brodeur has an especially difficult night, giving up six goals on 16 shots. But he and Marty Turco were good sports about it, as they were mic'ed up to provide running commentary (a nice touch for the telecast, although Brodeur's commentary was lost when his microphone was popped loose on a goal he allowed). Turco, in particular, seemed to warm up to the idea, appearing to offer comments while in the midst of saves.

And, as if this should be a surprise to anyone, no hits were recorded -- none (Jeremy Roenick not having been invited to this game).

If there was a coming out for any player, The Peerless might be tempted to go with Zdeno Chara. Much has been made these last two days that he is the largest player in the history of the league, and he uses a stick that seems to span the width of the rink. But Chara had a couple of goals last night and showed good instincts in jumping into the play. He's shown this from time to time, but on this stage, he really shined.

One should not make too much of this game. It is what it is -- an enjoyable romp for the game's best players, given an opportunity to display the skill and even the good humor that is absent in the night-to-night crush of games during the regular season. The Peerless thought it was immensely entertaining.

As for the broadcast, it seemed as though Versus, if it didn't find it's "A" game, found something close. Doc Emrick was a lot sharper last night than for the skills competition, and the supporting commentary was for the most part appropriate without being intrusive. They even found use for the "rail-cam," although here's an idea . . . put that thing on the other side of the ice. Watching that thing running the rail in front of the play on the wider shots got to be annoying after a while.

But all that is details. It was a nice break for players and fans in the midst of a long season. It's back to work tomorrow and the beginning of the sprint to the finish.

3 comments:

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JP said...

I thought the best part of the broadcast was Turco. It was entertaining and (to me at least) amazing how he could carry on a conversation and stay pretty focused on the game (admittedly not regular-season focus, but still...).

CapsChick said...

Turco was awesome - he's hilarious. I loved when he said he could let one more in to get the win and then minutes later Souray scored on him. Hmmm...anyone else find that a bit fishy? ;)