NHL Announces Skills Competition Events

The most exciting part of the NHL All-Star weekend isn’t the game itself. It’s Saturday night where the skills competition takes place. Besides the playoffs and the Olympic tournament, it is perhaps the third-most thing I look forward to in the hockey world. Team Alfredsson and Team Chara will compete against each other for points in various events.The league announced the events that will take place January 28 in Ottawa, and here’s a rundown of what will take place.

Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater

Five players from each team compete, four All-Star skaters and one rookie. The fastest skater will consist of five preliminary races, with the player posting the fastest time from each team meeting in one final match race. New addition this year: one skater from each team is positioned side-by-side on the start line. Both skaters race toward the same end zone, both turn outward, skate to the opposite end zone, turn back and skate past center ice to the finish line. Please NHL, spare us having to watch goalies in the fastest skater. It’s like watching a fat lineman run the 40-yard dash. It’s never a pretty sight.

Six team points are available — one each to the winner of the six individual races.

Allstate Insurance NHL Breakaway Challenge

This event has belonged Alex Ovechkin has made this event his own, winning the title in each of its first three years. Similar to the NBA Slam Dunk contest, three shooters (one rookie, two All-Stars) and one goaltender from each team will participate. Each skater will attempt three shots — with no limits. Shooters can start their attempt from anywhere with full access to the offensive zone, including behind the net. NHL penalty shot rules do not apply. Fans inside Scotiabank Place and those watching on television in Canada and the United States will be able to vote for their favorite player by texting the number that corresponds to the player of their choice to 81812. The shooter with the highest fan vote will score one point for his team.

It’ll be interesting to see what players come up with, considering what Vladimir Tarasenko did in the KHL shootout Friday night (video below).

Canadian Tire NHL Accuracy Shooting

Four players from each team (one rookie, three All-Stars) will participate, with four additional All-Stars from each team serving as passers. From 25 feet in front of the net, a shooter will take aim at four foam targets attached to the inner side of the goal posts, one target in each corner. The objective is to hit all targets in the fastest time. The player with the fastest time from each team will go head-to-head in the final round for the title of the NHL’s most accurate shooter. Five team points are available, one to the winner of each individual matchup. If you remember last year, Daniel Sedin went 4-4 in the span of time it takes a person to wash their hands.

Gatorade G Series NHL Skills Challenge Relay

Introduced to acclaim in 2011, this event will feature 16 players from each team (two rookies, 14 All-Stars) and showcase a host of skills that include the “one-timer,” passing, puck control, stickhandling and accuracy shooting. In the “one-timer” event, three shooters (with the assistance of one passer) must score three goals over an eight-inch barrier; in the passing event, one passer must complete a pass into each of six nets placed around the rink; in the puck control event, one skater will skate through a series of cones while keeping possession of the puck; in the stickhandling event, one skater will control the puck through a series of obstacles.

Rounding out the relay is the accuracy shooting event, where one player will take aim at four targets. Two groups from each team will go through the relay — one from each team in a pair of heats. Each skill must be completed before moving on to the next skill in this timed relay event worth a total of three points. The fastest team in each heat will earn one point and the team with the fastest combined time will earn one bonus point.

BlackBerry NHL Hardest Shot

Just like Ovechkin has owned the Breakway Challenge, Boston’s Zdeno Chara has owned the Hardest Shot. It’s sorta unfair that he’s the tallest player in the league at 6-9, meaning he can generate a lot of torque and flex on his stick leading to a harder, faster shot. Chara not only won his fourth consecutive NHL Hardest Shot competition in 2011, but his blast of 105.9 mph broke the all-time record of 105.4 he set in 2009. Four players from each team (one rookie, three All-Stars) will compete in five head-to-head matchups. One contestant from each team will square off in each round, valued at one point each. The highest recorded shot (by radar in mph) of two attempts will be scored. The player from each team with the hardest single shot will meet in a final match to determine the NHL’s hardest shooter. Five team points are available — one to the winner of each of the four preliminary matchups and one to the winner of the finale.

Tim Hortons NHL Elimination Shootout

The second-largest event in terms of participants from each side, the battle between Team Alfredsson and Team Chara will be decided in this competition, when 15 participants from each side (one rookie, 11 All-Stars, three goaltenders), compete in a time-honored game of “hockey survivor.” Shooters who score will move on to the next round in the shootout, with the All-Star goaltenders rotating after every third shooter. The event will continue until one player scores and the other(s) do not in a single round — last goal wins. Every goal scored will count as one point for the goal-scorer’s team.

Editor’s Note: NHL.com was used as a resource in this article.

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