There will be more where this comes tonight. Photo: James Guillory-US PRESSWIRE

All Star Game Preview: Chara v. Alfredsson, Part Deux

In case you missed out on the NHL All Stars Skills Competition last night, you missed quite a show.  Patrick Kane shot an exploding trick puck, Jamie Benn wowed spectators with his shooting accuracy, and Zdeno Chara shattered his own record again with a 108.8 mph slapshot.  The Panthers’ own Brian Campbell partook in the festivities last night, and he certainly held his own among the league’s elite players.  He lost the opening event by skating a little slower than Kris Letang in a fastest skater competition, but Letang is pretty darn good.  No one should be too disappointed.  Campbell’s winning moment came from feeding passes to Jamie Benn in the Most Accurate Shooter competition.  Campbell passed from Benn’s left on two occasions, and Jamie had the two fastest times among every player.  It was quite impressive to watch.

But the real jewel of the All Star weekend is tonight: the NHL All Star Game.  Again, we will see Brian Campbell participate on Team Chara.  We should be able to see the full skill set of every single one of these players, especially Campbell.  The lack of hitting or defense of any kind in this game allows smooth skaters like Soupy to move freely around the neutral zone and make some sweet dekes.  How much do you want to bet that Campbell busts out his traditional spin-o-rama?

Of course, there are underlying themes in this game that could increase the action and tension.  The biggest one is the Bruins vs. Canucks issue.  Team Chara has every Bruin represented, and Team Alfredsson has every Canuck.  What happens if one of the Sedin twins gets a little too close to Big Z in the defensive zone?  Is he going to have to be at least a little physical?  The inverse is on the table as well.  If Vancouver’s Alex Edler has a hit lined up on Tyler Seguin, should he dish it out?  It’s something to look out for.

There probably won’t be any surprise on who the crowd will be pulling for tonight: the game is being played in Ottawa, and every Senator is on Team Alfredsson.  In case there are any Swedes in the audience, they almost certainly will pull for Team Alfredsson as well.  Every Swedish All Star is with the Senators’ captain, including Henrik Lundqvist, the Sedin twins, and Erik Karlsson. If any Slovaks happen to be in attendance, they might have to root for Team Chara.  Chara, Marian Gaborik, and Marian Hossa all are members of Big Z’s squad.

But no matter who you root for, the game promises to be an offensive tour de force.  It is almost a guarantee that both teams will reach double digits in points.  There will be incredible passing plays, wicked shots, and almost no defense to speak of.  My prediction is that Team Chara will beat Alfie and his group by a score of 14-10.  But who cares if I’m right?  This game isn’t about the final score: it’s about the style points, and we should just sit back and watch the fireworks.

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