Sunday, January 27, 2008

Live-Blog: 56th Annual All-Star Game in Atlanta

Remember, this game is on both CBC and Versus! Because I'm up in Canada, you get the CBC version.

6:00 pm - Somebody with a whistle welcomes us to the All-Star game, followed up by a marching band with some enthusiastic cymbals in the stands. Uh, sure. I guess they do things different in Atlanta? From what I can see it's not a bad looking crowd. Our opening montage on CBC tonight is "Shine" by Andy Stochanski. I actually completely blanked on the band name but thankfully Ron McLean was there to save the day. I was just schooled on pop culture by Ron McLean. I shall proceed to hang my head in shame.

6:04 pm - Elliotte asks Vinny what it means to captain the All-Star game. Vinny politely says it's a great honour instead of the truth of: "Not bloody much". Elliotte then asks Vinny what he thinks of Malkin, Vinny says something that I snooze through (insert your favourite cliche here)

Scott Oake is in the Western team interviewing Iggy. Dion is awkwardly in short shorts next to them putting on his equipment. No, seriously. Those shorts are...binding. Iggy will be donating $5000 for every goal he scores tonight to Kids Sports. Even if Iggy doesn't score, he's still donate $5000. Awww.

6:07 pm - Swedish rockers "The Hives" open up the show for us. I bet their favourite player is Alfie. know the Swedish thing.

Okay, right off the bat I'll say I quite enjoy The Hives and I'm frankly super impressed the NHL manage to get such indie sweethearts to play the show. But the sound set-up in there is horrible and are the cheerleaders dancing in front of the stage really necessary? I love the band's matching prep school outfits though.

As the Hives play on in the background, the All-Stars skate onto the ice. No long-winded intro for tonight. Oh, but they're still a fan of the seizure-riffic strobe lights I see.

A shot of the audience and I have to say, I'm actually quite impressed. There are a few empty spots here and there but it looks like a good turn out.

Mike Babcock and Ron Wilson gets very subdued applause.

Oh, my bad they are going through the long-winded intros. Maybe this is the time to get a drink.

You'll be happy to know that Pronger is looking douchey as ever. Horcoff is the only one that bothered to smile at the camera. Henrik Sedin continues to look like life has no purpose without Daniel. Joe Thornton also smiles at the camera. Thornton needs a hair cut.

John Paddock gets subdued applause, the crowd expectedly is a little more receptive to Don Waddell.

6:14 pm, back with a beverage and they're still doing the intros. I return just in time to see Spezza introduced. He looks like he's trying really hard not to giggle, but you know he wants to smile.

And did they arrange the East height wise? Because after Mike Richards, Scott Gomez and then Martin St. Louis. Okay, I kind of love St. Louis, he's looking extra tiny today and he actually did the smile-nod combo to the camera. Although upon second glance, it kind of looks like he's checking you out.

The band is still playing in the background. I really feel sorry for the band at this point. I really hope they're being paid by the minute.

Before Ilya Kovalchuk is introduced, the cheers are already starting. I like to think that was a delayed cheer for Daniel Alfredsson. The Hives finally get to finish their song and the National Anthem is up. I'm not quite sure I know what "presenting the colours" for the anthem means. Kathleen Edwards is performing the Canadian anthem and does the half-French thing. I think girl's got some nerves. Not that I blame her, I totally would too.

The Atlanta Boy's Choir sings the American anthem. Okay, I was totally a choir in school. I've been in choirs since I was in 2nd grade and they are awesome. But it's slightly freaky since I'm pretty sure those boys are hitting notes I cannot hit.

6:23 pm - As we go into the commercial break, I'm clearly looking for more reasons to love Alfie. You know how there are kids who stand with the starters? After the anthems, Alfie was totally talking to them. Love you, Alfie!

6:25 pm - We're finally about to get started. Am I the only one who thinks Osgood wearing his original red helmet with the white/blue Western uniforms looks REALLY weird?

19:48 - Lazy defensive play, Nash beats Rick DiPietro 12 seconds in. An evening of compelling hockey, I see.

19:05 - Gaborik with another scoring chance and I actually don't think the East has been outside of their own zone yet. They finally do and Savard centres, Campbell pinches down low and Staal ties the game. 1-1 all.

18:03 - DiPietro totally knows this game is a joke by making a save, throwing the puck and attempting to bat it to Spezza on a breakaway. He gets a little too much mustard and it goes past him.

17:52 - Ovechkin, St. Louis and Spezza have a good 3-on but Osgood makes the save.

17:07 - After Greg Millen just told us DiPietro had to be reminded that this is not a goalie game due to his competitive nature, DiPietro comes out and handles the puck and totally looks like he's about to break out of the zone himself. Hey, after his offensive display yesterday, I don't see why not.

16:11 - Greg tells us another story of how Ovie asks for the tapes of the games to watch himself after every road game. This is proof that he loves the game so much. I'm inclined to think it means Ovie is vain. That could just be my own bias though.

15:00 - 5 minutes in and this game is still tied 1-1? Could it be these guys are actually trying? Is trap hockey back?

14:41 - Alfie makes a gorgeous drag and curl but Osgood makes the save on his back-end.

14:11 - Just as a future reference, Alfie, a shot won't go in if you shoot it off the defender's leg. No wonder you lost the accuracy challenge!

13:48 - I think I see a body check from Jovo-Cop, but apparently it was just a 'push'.

11:43 - Somebody totally just did a spin-o-rama at centre ice to get the puck to Spezza. I'm inclined to say it was Campbell because who else does inappropriate spin-o-ramas, but I could be wrong.

Back from break, Jim asks Babcock if coaching this game was like putting together a fantasy team and being able to put line-ups together. He says something a long the lines of "Yes, but you expect the guys to suck on purpose". Or something similar.

11:22 - The Atlanta crowd is still serenading Osgood. Well, okay I guess.

10:17 - Back-door pass from Richards to Markov and it's 2-1 East. Osgood actually tried to get back to stop it but no go.

We go into a break with that new Sidbits commercial. Should I keep a running tally of how many times the CBC plays this?

7:23 - Kovalchuk gets the puck and goes to the net, the crowd suddenly comes alive again. Fun tidbit: Anze Kopitar is the only Slovenian to play in an All-Star game (I'm assuming in North America?)

6:28 pm - Spezza centres the puck off the side of the net, right on the tape of Ovie's stick and scores! 3-1 East. Ovie looks ecstatic.

Back from the break, Subway's Hockey Night bio tells us that Lidstrom is a +380 in his career or something. Nice.

Elliotte is behidn the Eastern bench and asks Marc Savard if he's willing to do play-by-play again. Savard politely declines. Darn!

5:05 - Jim wants these players to be more selfish. Hockey players are not selfish by nature!

4:50 - Campbell pinches down low again and gets the pass from Malkin and beats Osgood. 4-1 East!

3:58 pm - The West has the East trapped in their zone and is playing keep-away with the puck. DiPietro just made 3 million saves in a row. I'm not sure he got the message that this game doesn't count.

2:37 - Spezza wheels and deals into the zone and his line gets a really good offensive sequence going before they finally score a goal off of Ovie's stifc while Jim interviews John Paddock. Paddock is wearing something that vaguely resembles a smile. 5-1 East.

1:33 - The Osgood serenades continue. Am I not getting something?

0:48 - DiPietro bobbles the puck but makes a save off of Ribs. Greg tells us that DiPietro's a lefty and has trouble finding gloves. I'm a lefty too! The world is just not made for lefties, I can empathize.

0:00 - As we go into intermission, we catch the West going back into the dressing room. Nabokov is flapping his gloves like he's about to take off. Right.

First Intermission - Sidbits commercial tally is up to 2.
I was ready to absolutely denounce this game, but the CBC just replayed Pronger's face-plant. In Slow-Mo. Best. All-Star. Game. Ever. For the record, he didn't know what Scott Oake's Phil Esposito reference was.

Craig Simpson, Ron McLean and Kelly Hrudey are talking about the players with passion for the game and who just love playing the game. They follow it up with a clip of Sid celebrating after he scored the game winner in the shoot-out at the Ice Bowl.

I know what point they are trying to make with this clip, but that clip actually makes me a bit sad. He looks like such a kid in that shot and thinking about all the pressure and expectations that's on him is sort of perturbing.

That being said, Sid is not in this game.

7:13 pm - SportsNet is playing the AHL All-Star Skills Competition tonight and I switch on over to catch what's going on. The event is in Binghamton (That's right, the farm team of Ottawa Senators!) and there is an awesomely full crowd. The crowd goes nuts as Lawrence Nycholat and Denis Hamel are introduced. The bench staff for the Canadian All-Stars is pretty much everybody from Hamilton. Maybe I should be watching this game instead. Ken Holland is on hand as the honourary captain of Team Canada.

Switching back to the All-Star game, they are having a ceremony for Willie O'Ree. Iggy and Vinny present O'Ree with what looks like a glass stick of some kind. Um, sure okay. Jim is saying there's a full house in Atlanta. I guess I can buy that.

2nd Period

19:41 - Fun Tidbit: Rick Nash's goal 12 seconds in is the fastest in All-Star game history.

19:00 - Elliotte interviews Alyssa Milano about her new clothing line. Alyssa explains that she was a sport fan ever since she was a kid and sick of going into the store and not finding anything that fit that wasn't pink. Um, that's very thoughtful of you...I think. Apparently, she's buddies with Luc Robitaille.

17:03 - Literally nothing is happening, I elect to switch to the AHL SuperSkills contest instead. Except I can't as my clicker has run out of batteries. I'm trapped!

Back to the AHL SuperSkills competition and the announcers are talking a lot. One of the things they do differently is let some of the non-pro players from local minor teams to participate in these skills competitions to demonstrate how it's done. That's kind of cool. The first thing they do is an obstacle course puck relay much like the one in the NHL Skilsl competition. Except nowhere near as complicated.

14:29 - Back to the actual All-Stars game, Gaborik skins and gives to Jovo with all sorts of room. Henrik can't beat Vokoun. Vokoun wants people to stop doubting that he's an All-Star!

TV timeout, back to the AHL SuperSkills and it's still the obstacle course. Corey Locke from the Hamilton Bulldogs is participating in the puck relay. Locke loses the puck twice but still gets a tie. Here's a tip Locke, you don't have to deke the pylon.

It's Krog vs. Schremp in the puck relay and the future of the Oilers wins it after Krog loses the puck. 2-0 lead for PlanetUSA.Krog has CRAZY speed though.

Denis Hamel is next up versus Keith Aucoin from Albany. The announcers make a bad bribery joke. Okay, then. Hamel mishandles the puck at first and is beat out by Aucoin, not good news for the hometown captain.

11:20 - Back to the All-Star game, Tim Thomas is being interviewed and it really is a great story. He never really thought he would be back in the league after playing in All-Star games all over the world. Still 5-1 East.

10:27 - Nash with a break-away and of course he scores. He drags and dekes and freezes Vokoun. 4-2 East, 2nd of the night for Nash.

9:33 - Gaborik gets a breakaway but he waits a little bit too long and he can't beat Vokoun.

TV Timeout and it's back to the AHL Skills. I guess this means that I can't keep that running tally of the Sidbits commercial anymore. R.J. Broadhead is interviewing Ken Holland who played goal in Binghamton way back when. He actually does not look too pleased to be there. Maybe he'd rather be in Atlanta right now.

8:53 - Back to the ASG, Getzlaf goes back to his forehand at the side of the net but it just bounces oddly in the air before Vokoun gloves it. Elliotte interviews Dion's parents in the crowd and apparently Dion needed 15 tickets for his entourage. Dion wants to send his best to his grandma out in the Maritimes. Aww.

The next event in the AHL SuperSkills competition is the speed relay. They still do the whole entire sheet of ice except they also need speed control as they have to do some loops around some pylons. I know I'm making this sound more complicated than it actually is, but you know what I mean.

6:13 - Iggy has a 2-on-1 with Nash, Nash decides to shoot and Vokoun makes the save.

5:45 - Kaberle at the blue-line with the puck gets dangerously close to drifting out of the zone and...doesn't shoot. That's the Kabby I know.

5:30 - For some reason Niedermayer just yelled really loudly "NO NO NO" for the puck. All righty. He then proceeds to get the puck from Thornton and scores. 5-3 West!

AHL SuperSkills, the Lowell Devils representative for PlanetUSA is Petr Vrana, he gets a time of 14.9 seconds. For Team Canada, Joey Tenute from the San Antoinio Rampage has the new time record at 14.072 secs.

4:43 - Back to the All-Star game, Paddock is interviewed by Jim about having his family around. I believe the young lady beside him on the bench is his daughter. Jim just said it's possible Paddock and Babcock will meet in the Finals. I think he's just officially doomed us. Thanks, Greg. Shots are 19-4 for the West in the second period. Way to go, East.

2:29 - Somebody audibly says "Nice Save, Nabby!"

2:23 - Alfie with a great shot but is stoned by Nabokov. Pronger falls on his ass again. I giggle just a little bit.

1:59 - Horcoff sends Perry to the puck and a stick goes flying. (Yes, this is the most interesting thing that's happening right now).

1:00 - Nabby absolutely stones Kovalchuk who is parked in front. Kovalchuk cannot believe it and collapses onto the ice on his back but laughs as he ribs Nabby for it. Okay, Kovalchuk is offically growing on me.

0:04 - Great pass to send Kovalchuk in on the break away, and he is STONED BY NABOKOV. Kovalchuk is NOT pleased at all. He slams his stick and kicks it. Somebody give him a chill pill! The East bench tries to get him to calm down. I want to see garbage cans being thrown!

Second Intermission
I'm ready to start a new running commercial tally. This time the one with the Rogers commercial where the dad is watching hockey and the kid can't sleep and it's supposed to be all nice cause they watch hockey together. Why can't you just turn down the volume and put him to bed? Or am I totally missing the point of this commercial?

Back to the AHL SuperSkills game, it's a shooting challenge which is a variation of the old break-out challenge. This is two shooters on one goalie, one after the other.

Former-Sen-Sibling sighting! Nolan Schaefer, brother of ex-Sen Peter Schaefer is on the farm team of the Minnesota Wild and lets in 4 goals out of 5. So uh...not so good.

Back to the ASG, Ne-Yo is performing with the marching band we saw at the beginning of the game. There are some dancers in skimpy sparkly outfits too. I feel really sorry for them. I love marching bands! But maybe I'm just not hip enough but what the heck is a Ne-Yo? Ne-Yo changes out of his fuzzy Marching Band hat into leather beret. Okay, then. Isn't L'il Jon a fan of the Atlanta Thrashers? Where's L'il Jon?! I'm also fearing a bit for these dancers and for Ne-Yo on the ice. I'm not really sure what kind of shoes they're wearing but I'm sort of afraid (hoping?) that they'll fall and do a Pronger.

Ne-Yo finishes his set by saying she's the sweetest drug and is flanked by the dancers whom he promptly ignores. The crowd gives him a...resounding? Enthusiastic? Response.

Back at the AHL SuperSkills, it is the hardest shot competition. R.J. was just interviewing Bobby Ryan who confesses he doesn't have a hard shot at all. I see the AHL puts as much thought dividing their players into these events as the NHL does.

For Team Canada, Alex Picard from the Philadelphia Phantoms gets a 96.7 mph, his second isn't as hard at 93.9

Eric Reitz of Houston is next, his first shot is 88.4 mph. Reitz has a very fuzzy haircut. Second attempt registers a 92.9 mph. The Binghamton arena is playing some White Stripes in the background. Nice.

Mark Mancari for Team Canada from Rochester gets 96.8 mph, his second attempt gets 102.8. HOLY CRAP. That's a new record in the AHL!

Bobby Ryan is next and gets 96.2 mph on attempt number one. Second is 96.3 mph.

From the Chicago Wolves, Joe Kwiatkowski gets a 93.1 mph, second one is 93.9 mph.

Jonathan Ericsson of the Grand Rapid Griffins gets a 95.9 mph, second attempt is 100.1 mph! Ericsson was the last pick of the 2002 entry draft of the Detroit Red Wings.

Adam Pardy from Quad-City is next and gets a 89.4 mph, second shot is 90.5 mph.

Brian Lee from Binghamton (REPRESENT!), he gets a resounding response from the hometown crowd. First shot is an unimpressive 87.9 mph. I think he knows it too as he just made a weird sucking-face. Second shot is even worse at 84.6 mph. So bombs from the blue-line from Lee in the future then.

Back to the All-Star Game, the CBC is holding this contest where viewers send in their version of The Hockey Song by Stompin' Tom Connors. Unfortunately, I miss the winning entry but I'm sure you can find it on the CBC website.

RJ interviews Emile Francis and he says very nice things about Binghamton. Next up for the SuperSkills is the Accuracy Shooting. The set-up is pretty much the same, each shooter has 8 shots to hit 4 targets in 18 seconds and there are 3 shooters per team. In 2007, Clarke MacArthur of the Rochester Amerks went 4/5 and won the event.

Third Period
19:29 - Getzlaf comes in all on his own and goes roof daddy on Thomas, beating up right underneath the arm. 5-4 East still. Please tell me this game won't actually go into overtime.

18:30 - Kopitar has all sorts of room but he can't beat thomas. Oake interviews Nabby and Nabby is all smiles. I mean this in the best way possible, Nabby looks like Hayley Wickenheiser.

18:04 - Nash gets in all alone and of course ties the game. Thomas is trying his best not to lose his mind right now. You know he really wants to. The hats go flying as that's a hattie for Rick. Game is tied!

Back to the AHL Skills competition, Rob Schremp is up for PlanetUSA on the accuracy challenge. He's taking passes from Lee and somebody from WB-S. Schremp goes 4 for 6!

15:59 - 2-on-1 for the East with Hossa and Gomez, Hossa scores! Atlanta goes wild! WILD I SAY! 6-5 East. (Can I just say how much I don't like that Hossa tucks his jersey in like that? It looks like he's wearing a fanny pack!)

AHL Skills competition update, Gabe Gauthier from the Manchester Monarchs goes 4 for 4 in the accuracy challenge!

14:53 - I switch back and totally miss Dion's goal. Uh...he scored. 6-6 tie!

13:45 - Vinny passes it back to the blue-line and nobody is there. Where the heck are you defense? Oh it's Kaberle...uhh never mind.

13:29 - 3-on-1 for the East...nothing results.

12:40 - Spezza does that patented, do a lab around the zone and then pass it off but unfortunately, Ovie didn't know the pass was coming.

TV timeout means a brief dinner break. I get the feeling I won't be missing much.

11:44 - We get an in-the-crease interview with Tim Thomas, he stops talking when he needs to make the save so it's nowhere as interesting as Marty Turco from last year. More Turco! I mean, uh...

9:22 - Alfie has this hilariosu pin-ball sequence in front of the net against Manny Legace where Legace makes three great saves.

9:03 - Gaborik is all alone in front, Sedin makes a quick pass and an easy tap-in for Gaborik. West with the lead!

7:25 - Savard to Staal and Staal scores into the open net! Jim once again makes fun of Savard's play by play skills by exclaiming OH!

5:47 - Most of Spezza's passes aren't actually connecting, but if they did you know they would have been great scoring chances. Why can't you wingers just read his mind and know where to be at the right time? GOSH!

2:11 - Alfie gets into the zone with only one man to beat but instead of shooting, curls back and makes a pass. See how unselfish that was? Isn't he great? (Okay, I promise I'll stop. Really, the smarter thing would have been to shoot) but...whatever.

1:25 - I really don't want this game to go into OT. If this game goes into OT, I will absolutely die.

0:59 - STOP THE PRESSES,we have a hit sighting courtesy of Jovo-Cop!

0:21 - MARC SAVARD SCORES! 8-7 East! Marc Savard is my new favourite person in the entire universe! He gets the goal courtesy of Campbell and Staal. That combo has been dynamite all night! Nobody is booing Savard now!

0:14 - Legace is out of the net and Thomas tries to clear to get the empty net! No go!

0:00 - T hat's time! The East wins it 8-7! Celebrations and jubilations all around!

We eavesdrop on Tim Thomas as he goes through the handshake line. He tells Jim Hughson to shut up because he needs to talk to these guys since he doesn't get to see them often. Heh.

Post-Game Thoughts
Okay, so we really shouldn't come to expect anything from these games and I have to admit I was dying through most of it. I mean if my propensity for switching to the AHL Skills Competition was any indication...

But in any case, it was a fun evening, and the boys looked like they were having fun. I love seeing the handshake, and hearing the in-game interviews. I'm just really glad this game didn't go into OT.

Elliotte interviews Savard and he says something not memorable. Scott goes to interview Rick Nash. Nash looks like somebody killed his puppy but he says something about how it's "nice" for the "fans". Poor Rick. As Gary Bettman is announced, he gets booed. Well done, Atlanta. Keeping the dream alive!

Eric Staal is the game MVP and he wins the car. Just um, don't drink and drive.

Back at the AHL Skills Challenge, PlanetUSA spanked Team Canada 15-9. Somebody from RBK/CCM is presenting awards. Toby Petersen won the fastest skater award.

I guess that's for me for the night! Thanks for dropping by and here's to a swift return for hockey!


HG said...

Ooooooh Dion... hee hee. How's the liveblog going? Where is everyone? It should have been mandatory for Hloggers to come here. :P

Sherry said...

Hg, I have no idea! I feel so lonely here!

elise said...

They probably should have just brought Turco in to make comments. Even if he wasn't just would have made everything so much more enjoyable...oh, but wait, everything is enjoyable because the players are having fun and, of course, Sid wants us to enjoy it, even if we cannot bask in his glory.

HG said...

Well, I'm here for you. Goooooo West!

HG said...

I was all excited about that save Dion made and then the East had to score. Bah. :P

elise said...

So much for my Gary Bettman is secretly planning for all the big games to go into OT or SO scheme.

Shan said...

That was mighty long, I think I got past half-way before I realized that if the All-Star game isn't cool enough for me to watch, it's definitely not cool enough for me to read about.

I wish the All-Star game somehow got the players to really try.