Sunday, January 30, 2011
Team Staal falls; Lundqvist makes history
By Mike Hume
Since you're no doubt already up to speed on the "whats" and "whens" of the 11-10 Team Lidstrom All-Star Game win, here's a little more from the "whos." Here's what the three New York-area members of Team Staal had to say in the postgame scrums.
Henrik Lundqvist was unaware that he had entered the record books as the first all-star goalie to face (and stop) a penalty shot. "Wow, so I guess I'm part of history," Lundqvist said after signing the game jersey of tonight's teammate Alex Ovechkin ... who brought on the penalty shot by throwing his stick to try and waylay the breakaway of Matt Duchene.
Lundqvist hadn't seen much of the Avs' sophomore center, so he didn't have much to draw on before stopping the attempt by sliding his left leg out to block the bottom left corner of the goal mouth.
"I didn't have anything on him. I just try to do the same thing every time [on penalty shots]," Lundqvist said. "I just try to be patient and make him make the first move."
Marc Staal may not have been the driving force between the crowd's appreciative chants of "Go Team Staal" but he thought it was pretty neat nonetheless. "Obviously it wasn't for me," Marc said, before noting that he gave his brother some flak between the second and third periods. "I told him he was letting everyone down by not scoring a goal."
Not that defense is ever the focus of the All-Star Game, but Marc may not have been arguing from a position of strength. Through two periods he sat at a game-worst minus-4. He later rallied in the third to cut his rating to a more acceptable minus-2. His brother Eric also scored a pair of goals in the final frame.
Staal noted it was a little weird to watch his defensive partner jumping deep into the offensive zone quite a bit. Normally paired with the stay-at-home Daniel Girardi back on Broadway, Staal was tonight matched with dynamic Pittsburgh Penguins D Kris Letang. "It was a little unusual but he scored a couple of goals. It was fun."
The Devil's Work
Patrik Elias spent his All-Star Game skating with Carolina Hurricanes fan-favorite Jeff Skinner, better known as Bieber on Ice. The team-first vet from New Jersey spent most of the game trying to set up the rookie for a goal that would have brought the roof crashing down, but the 18-year-old just couldn't convert a number of great scoring chances. Perhaps he was blinded by all the flash bulbs.
After the game, Elias said he and his other linemate, Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche, made a concerted effort to try and get the wunderkind a goal.
"Yeah, we were trying hard. Maybe a little too hard," Elias said. "I almost pulled a groin muscle trying to spring him on a breakaway."
Elias is fine though and is very, very impressed with Skinner, one of the lead candidates for this season's Calder Trophy.
"He's great at going to the net and he's got such strong legs, which is what makes him so good," Elias said.
While the youngster didn't score, Elias did put a goal on the board, the first All-Star Game goal of his decorated career. "I grabbed a puck after the game," Elias said. "It's my first, and you know, it could be my last."
In case anyone is actually interested in the final game stats:
Marc Staal: Minus-2, 1 SOG, 17:01 TOI
Patrik Elias: G, A, 1 SOG, 15:44 TOI
Henrik Lundqvist: 11 saves, 14 shots faced in 18:36 TOI