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Saturday, January 29, 2011
SuperSkills wrap: Chara and Ovi rule again, Fleury G-rated in net, Skinner tribute

By Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun


RALEIGH, N.C. -- Zdeno Chara once again proved his domination, setting a record with the hardest slap shot (105.9 mph) at Saturday's SuperSkills competition. It was the fourth straight time Chara has won the event.

Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang just shook his head at the feat.

"Scary," he said. "Scary because I'm going to play against him a few more games this year."

The highlight for Letang, who ended up shooting on teammate Marc-Andre Fleury?

"Just being here," he said. "It's fun, it's an experience. Obviously, it's not a competition anyone wants to get hurt here, so just to be here having fun with the guys."

Zdeno Chara
Zdeno Chara set a SuperSkills record in the hardest shot competition, clocking in at 105.9 mph.

Was he disappointed at the lopsided Skills competition score?

"Honestly, I just want to have fun," said Letang, whose Team Staal squad pounded Team Lidstrom 33-22.

Shea Weber wasn't able to dethrone Chara, finishing second with a good showing nonetheless.

"We were having a blast," said Weber. "We're both competitors out there and he's got a great shot. He holds the record for a reason; he's a big man and he can really let it rip."

Weber hit triple digits and the crowd loved it.

"You surprise yourself," said Weber, who shot a puck through the net at the 2010 Olympics. "A couple of years ago in Montreal [at the 2009 All-Star Game] was the first time I timed my shot since I was a little kid. Just to see it go up there and see how hard it is was pretty crazy."

Weber hadn't checked his cell phone yet after the event, but he knew what would be waiting for him.

"I'm sure my teammates will be ripping me," said Weber. "There will be a few positives after the first round, but they were probably ripping me after the final."

No All-Star texts for Alex

Although Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin won the breakaway challenge, he admitted he liked Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban's effort, but would have voted for Anaheim's Corey Perry if he had a chance to vote.

When it was suggested the players should have been given phones, so they could text their votes, Ovechkin explained he could have since he never parts with his cell.

Said Ovechkin: "Well I have my cell phone all the time with me, but I don't want to spend the 50 cents, you know what I mean?"

Subban's jersey swap

It's been interesting to watch just how big a deal Carolina rookie Jeff Skinner is in Raleigh. Subban wore a Skinner jersey in the breakaway competition, much to the crowd's delight.

Subban said the idea for his jersey switch came from San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle.

"Dan Boyle was just like, 'Hey man, you need an idea,"' said Subban. "I was just like, 'That's a pretty good idea. I think the crowd would like that.' So I threw it on and they liked it -- that's what it's all about."

Skinner wasn't sure what to make of the old switcheroo.

"I didn't know [what he was doing]," Skinner said. "Five seconds before he shot, he just came up to me and said 'I need your jersey.' I just took it off. He put on a good show."

Fans in Montreal might have taken a dim view of Subban's move, but he's not in any hurry to trade in the fabled Montreal colors.

"To be honest with you, I'm more comfortable in my jersey," said Subban. "That jersey was snug and there was a little too much black in it. I prefer the bleu, blanc et rouge, you know what I mean?"

Among Skinner's Team Staal teammates was San Jose's Logan Couture, who looks to be in a neck-and-neck race with the Carolina rookie for this season's Calder Trophy.

"If this was in San Jose, I'm sure it would be the same for me, but I love how they support him. He's a great player, very gifted," Couture said. "Eighteen years old to be doing what he's doing this year is spectacular. He's a great kid, too. This is my first time of really getting to know him and be around him. He doesn't say much, but he's a great kid. He's always got a big smile on his face."

Couture said a number of players complimented him on his strong first NHL season.

"A lot of these guys have come up to me and said. 'You're having a great year, you're playing really well,' and it means a lot to me to hear it from these guys. These guys do it year in and year out," Couture said. "A couple of coaches tonight said that to me as well, so it's a great honor to hear that, it definitely means a lot to me."

Fleury on fire

Fleury was dynamite in the shootout event. We asked him if he was swearing at his shooters like he did with his teammates during shootout drills in HBO's "24/7".

"I'm not as comfortable with the guys here like I am back home in Pittsburgh,'' said Fleury. "I gave it a bit to Tanger [Letang] when I stopped him, but I was mad against myself for Perry on the last goal. I moved too fast. I said a few bad words after that."

Why the success in the shootout?

"I have some good teammates shooting on me at home," said Fleury. "I guess practicing against them helped me out."

Stammer versus Marty

Lightning linemates Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis faced off in the fastest skater competition and the kid beat the veteran.

"I didn't even know what I was doing when I got to the dressing room today, so we didn't have time to have a side bet," said Stamkos. "He let me know that I beat him and that I have 15 years on him and that he said he had a bad start. We might have to have a rematch back home."

Stamkos also took honors for hardest shot among forwards.

"I'll take pride in that," said Stamkos, the NHL goals leader. "I was a little nervous after the first one, only 95 [mph], but I beared down. It was nice getting over 100."