The Chicago Blackhawks stole the show this weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina, for the 2011 NHL All-Star festivities. The Blackhawks were the center of attention right from the start with Patrick Kane named an assistant captain for Team Lidstrom. At the first ever fantasy draft one of the main (and longest running) story lines was which of his Chicago teammates Kane would select first. Duncan https://thehockeywriters.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpKeith went to team Lidstrom in the second round, 4th overall; and then the wait started for Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews.
TSN/Versus took every opportunity to show a fairly perturbed Toews each time he was passed over by his teammate. Sharp on the other hand seemed not to worry too much about where he would go. Then in round eight, Eric Staal, took his fellow Thunder Bay native Sharp, and Kane ended Toews wait with the next pick. Kane later admitted not wanting to choose between the two forwards and had decided to take whichever was not selected by Team Staal.
The Hawks remained a focal point for the skills competition on Saturday night. The night started with the Hawks with Duncan Keith losing his backwards skating race to the Penguin’s Kris Letang by only 0.035 seconds. Then with Sharp and Toews going head-to-head in the accuracy competition it appeared that Toews missed the whistle and got a late start. The result was an easy victory for Sharp. Toews, raised his arms in protest and was given a do over and promptly destroyed Sharp in the rematch. Toews hit all 4 targets in 8.8 seconds, and saw his time bested only by Kane at 8.7 seconds, and Daniel Sedin at 7.3 seconds. Kane and Sedin each went again in the final round and for the first time in a while, a Canuck beat a Blackhawk. The seemingly always serious Toews, didn’t seem to like having his time bested however and as the final shooter in the skills relay he provided the highlight of the night hitting the four targets in just about 6 seconds.
Just like last season however, the Hawks seemed to save their best performance for last. Toews and Sharp lead the way with a goal and two assists for their teams, while Kane and Keith both chipped in an assist on former Hawk, Dustin Byfuglien’s goal first period goal. Each of the Hawks forwards made at least breathtaking play. Sharp, started it off with a pair fantastic passes to set-up two of the first four goals of the game. Then Kane took a pass from Keith, broke down the right side and somehow put a backhanded saucer pass right on Byfuglien’s tape for a one-timer. Jermey Roenick, later called the play the most impressive of the night on NHLNet’s post-game coverage. Sharp netted his goal early in the third blasting home a feed from Claude Giroux of the Flyers. At the time the goal put Team Staal up 5-4. In the third Toews broke an 8-8 tie with a goal in which he executed a spin move into the slot, kicked the puck to his stick and then fired it past Henrik Lundqvist for a 9-8 lead. Team Lidstrom wouldn’t give up the lead again.
Patrick Sharp was named the All-Star game Most Valuable Player after the game, getting a trophy and a car for his efforts. Also the honor will keep Kane, Toews, and Keith, from holding bragging rights over him since their Team Lidstrom emerged with the 11-10 victory over Sharp’s Team Staal. For Blackhawks fans, the hope is that the Hawks stars will come out of the experience re-energized for the final 32 games. With the Hawks sitting in 7th in the tight Western Conference the Hawks will need their stars to step up and show that they can dominate the real games like they did this weekend.