Sunday, January 27, 2008

Caps Stand Out In Hot-lanta

There was only two of them, but both made some pretty big waves in Atlanta. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both wowed the Thrasher faithful and NHL fans everywhere at the NHL's All-Star spectacular.

Backstrom scored two goals in the young stars competition which became part of the skills competition with each conference trying to earn points. The young stars played a quick game of 3 on 3 while the All Star goaltenders stood in net. Backstrom helped the East with final 7-6 score and giving the East 2 points.

Then Ovechkin impressed the crowd and the judges in the breakaway challenge that was NHL's version of the slam dunk contest in the NBA. Ovie flipped the puck up on his stick then took a big baseball swing. Strike one. On the second trip down he flipped the puck up higher, did a 360 and took another swing. Strike two. But the point wasn't to score. Ovie won enough style points for the attempt and gave the East their win over the West in the skills competition.

Ovie won the crowd over, the same crowd the loudly booed him during introductions. Atlanta is a bitter divisional rival to the Capitals, but that didn't matter much as Ovie stole the spot light. He even got a standing ovation after his 360 move. His toothy grin made him the star of the night.

All of this on a night where some of the new events drew mixed reactions. The beginning event called the obstacle course was a horrible start to the night. The challenge was a bit boring and went for far too long. While the breakaway challenge was good in theory, but many of the league's best took a more conservative approach. While Ovechkin and Marion Gaborik made attempts at something a little different. Gaborik did a wrap around the net on Rick DiPietro but didn't score. That wasn't the point though.

While many of the events did more to yawn than excite, the real game starts tomorrow.

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