warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Previewing The Biggest Storylines Of NHL All-Star Weekend

James Santelli |
January 28, 2011 | 3:14 a.m. PST

Staff Writer

Alex Ovechkin needs to have a good performance after his mediocre showing in the Winter Classic. (Creative Commons)
Alex Ovechkin needs to have a good performance after his mediocre showing in the Winter Classic. (Creative Commons)
Most of the news leading up to Sunday’s 58th NHL All-Star Game has centered on the players who will not be in Carolina for the game.

The absences of Penguins centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin due to injury and Flames winger Jarome Iginla for family reasons will certainly be noticeable. Still, there are still plenty of big storylines to follow on All-Star Weekend.

Let’s take a look:
Alex Ovechkin

The Russian winger is having a down year by his lofty standards -- he currently sits 22nd in the NHL with 19 goals at the break and his Capitals trail by a few points in the Southeast Division, but with his main rivals Crosby and Malkin staying home for the weekend, Ovie has the opportunity to capture the spotlight in Raleigh.

Ovechkin failed to score or garner an assist in front of the 4.5 million Winter Classic viewers on New Year’s Day. An impressive showing in Sunday’s game would be a good way to kick off the second half for the 25-year-old and could only serve to further his case as hockey’s premier superstar.


Steven Stamkos

The 2011 game marks the first All-Star appearance for Tampa Bay’s Stamkos (who would’ve been a shoo-in last year, but there was no game due to the Vancouver Olympics). The 20-year-old slid past Crosby for first place in the scoring race prior to the break and his Lightning lead the Southeast Division, yet Stamkos has not yet garnered the popularity and media attention that other top stars have. He has a chance to show off this weekend and add to his superstar resume.


Jeff Skinner

A top candidate for the Calder Trophy, Carolina forward Jeff Skinner will be making his All-Star debut in front of the home fans. When Skinner was added to the game this week as an injury replacement, he became the youngest All-Star ever at only 18 years and 259 days old. The seventh overall pick in the June draft will certainly be able to hold his own against the older stars. He leads all rookies in scoring at the break with 18 goals and 22 assists.


Fantasy Draft

Since 1969, the All-Star teams have either been divided by conference or by continent, in the North America vs. the World games from 1998-2002. This year, squads will be drafted by captains Eric Staal of the hosting Carolina Hurricanes and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings. Friday’s fantasy draft (5:00 p.m. PT, Versus) adds a pick-up dynamic that brings exciting possibilities, with family ties in play.

- Will Eric select his brother, Rangers defenseman Marc Staal? Mom says he had better.

- Are twins and longtime Vancouver linemates Daniel and Henrik Sedin going to be broken up?

- What will be the fate of other teammate groups and pairings in the field?

- Is Lidstrom going to favor his Swedish countrymen? There are five in the pool, including the Sedins.

- Who will be picked first? And, possibly more importantly, who will have the shame of being “Mr. Irrelevant” as the last pick?

Various mock drafts have speculated about these questions, but Staal and Lidstrom hold the real cards.



One of the most exciting events of All-Star Weekend since its addition in 1990 is the SuperSkills Competition (4:00 p.m. PT, Saturday, Versus). The players are often looser in the skills competition but still out to compete and showcase their raw talent on the ice.

This year’s lineup features six events, including Fastest Skater, Accuracy Shooting and the thrilling Elimination Shootout final. Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara will try to notch his fourth straight win in the Hardest Shot contest after setting a record 105.4 mph shot in the 2009 competition.


James Santelli is also a contributor for Pittsburgh Sports Report. To reach James, click here. Follow him on Twitter, @JamesSantelli.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.