It's the best time of year!
1. Henrik and Daniel split apart
For the first time in their careers, the Sedin twins will be playing against each other. Team Staal took the risk of selecting Daniel in the third round, only to see Henrik go next to Team Lidstrom. Henrik and Daniel is my favorite one-two combo to watch, and one of the best duos this league has seen in years. They have averaged a combined 159 points a season with Vancouver over the last four years, working wonders with their cycle. However, for two nights only, the twins that bring Canucks fans out of their seat on a nightly basis will be facing off as opponents.
2. Home-ice advantage for Team Staal
It was almost too predictable heading into the fantasy draft, but Eric Staal made it a reality by taking ‘his boys’ from Carolina. Goalie Cam Ward went first overall to please the hometown fans, while rookie sensation Jeff Skinner sweated it out until Round 11 to go to Team Staal. These three will obviously be the stars of the weekend here in Raleigh, and a large percentage of the crowd will be on their side at the events tonight and tomorrow. Will that be enough to beat a deeper and more talented Team Lidstrom?
3. Which All-Star will shine the brightest?
Compared to years past, the game is missing some of the biggest stars in the game. Regular attendees like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla, Joe Thornton, Ilya Kovalchuk, etc., are not in Raleigh this year. So that could open the door for one of the unheralded stars to shine in this weekend’s events. How about a guy like Claude Giroux? He’s been great for the Flyers this year, but could really put his name on the map with a big weekend. The same goes for Loui Eriksson or even Matt Duchene.
4. How will Phil Kessel respond to going last?
Some people wondered if Kessel should even be at the All-Star Game; I guess Staal and Lidstrom shared those same thoughts! Toronto’s streaky goal-scorer waited the longest to get selected in last night’s fantasy draft, becoming ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ as the 36th and final pick. With that being said, anybody has the ability to shine at this event. So even though Kessel had the slight embarrassment of going last, he’ll be surrounded by talent and could easily score a couple goals – just out of sheer ‘frustration’! Hey, at least he got a car out of it.
5. Can the event save its reputation?
Yesterday’s fantasy draft added a lot of buzz that this game hasn’t had in years. It was simply a fun night and kind of gimmicky; but at the same time, it added a lot of intrigue for the rest of the weekend. Also, without Crosby in town, it will eliminate any discussion related to ‘Sid and Ovie are above everyone else’, which the fans will obviously be very pleased about. Will the Sedins competing against one another add some sizzle to the game? The All-Star Game is considered a joke by the vast majority of fans and pundits. But could the uniqueness of this year’s game save its reputation? Doubtful, but you never know.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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