If you were to ask who the blue liner was this season with the most goals and the most terrifying shot to handle from the blue line you might hear names like Sheldon Souray or Sami Salo. Those are good guesses, but they’re not right. Welcome Jason Garrison to the party of guys with big shots putting fear into goalies.
Garrison is the Panthers defenseman who took the defenseman goal scoring lead last night with his seventh goal of the year in a 6-0 rout of Dallas. Seeing Garrison and Souray in the same game meant that both Kari Lehtonen and Scott Clemmensen had to be on their toes, but it would be Lehtonen seeing the full fury of Garrison’s work.
Garrison is evoking thoughts of big boomers of days gone by like Al Iafrate or Al MacInnis, but unlike Iafrate and more like MacInnis, when Garrison’s shot finds the mark he’s finding the back of the net.
Out of nowhere, Garrison has become one of Florida’s best defensemen and seeing him team up with Brian Campbell on the point on power plays is helping the Panthers become a lethal unit on the man advantage. Three of Garrison’s seven goals are on the power play after all.
Craziest stat of them all for Garrison? His seven goals this year equal the number of goals he’s had in his career before this season. If you’re going to break out, you might as well go big and the same could be said of the long dormant Panthers.
The 2011 NHL SuperSkills Competition will leave behind some fun memories for hockey fans.
Tim Thomas started things off with a little comic relief when he lost his edge and fell during the goalie portion of the fastest skater competition. Daniel Sedin showed off his individual talents by going 8 for 9 in the accuracy shooting portion. Alex Ovechkin and P.K. Subban used the venue to entertain the crowd with their colorful personalities.
Yet the most memorable scene probably came during the hardest shot competition, as powerful defensemen Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara squared off. Weber won the first round, but Chara beat Weber and everyone else – including himself – when he registered a scary 105.9 mile per hour slap shot.
Chara earned his fourth consecutive victory in the hardest shot competition, while that 105.9 broke his previous record of 105.4 mph. That 105.4 mark wrestled the all-time title from memorable mullet man Al Iafrate.
(Odd aside: shooters with the name “Al” dominated the competition from 1990-2000. Iafrate won it three times while Al MacInnis took it six times. The only non-Al was Dave Manson, with a 98.0 mph shot in 1996.)
Anyway, here’s video footage of that Chara slap shot. The question remains: can Chara or someone else hit the 106 mph mark as players get stronger and sticks create more powerful shots?
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(Shot of 105.9 via Versus/NHL.com.)