2012 All-Star Game

Star sniper: Jamie Benn wins most accurate shooter

Dallas Stars leading scorer Jamie Benn captured the third event of the 2012 NHL All-Star skills competition — the accuracy shooting contest. Benn was one of eight players that participated head-to-head in the opening round and by posting one of the fastest times, he moved on to face (and defeat) Philadelphia rookie Matt Read in the final.

The results…

Round One

Matt Read (Team Alfredsson) def. Cody Hodgson (Team Chara)

Jason Spezza (Team Alfredsson) def. Tyler Seguin (Team Chara)

Jamie Benn (Team Chara) def. Steve Stamkos (Team Alfredsson)

Marian Hossa (Team Chara) def. Daniel Sedin (Team Alfredsson)

Matt Read and Jamie Benn posted the two fastest times and advanced to the final.

Final Round

Team Chara’s Jamie Benn (10.204) def. Team Alfredsson’s Matt Read (16.361)

Benn was the unquestioned star of the event, registering the two fastest times (he hit all four opening-round targets in 13.583 seconds) of the competition.

Here’s video of his impressive display:

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The 22-year-old Dallas sniper has 13 goals in 43 games this year after scoring 22 in each of his first two NHL seasons.

PHT’s 2012 NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft Preview


On Thursday, the NHL’s All-Star Player Fantasy Draft will go down at the Hilton Lac Leamy in Gatineau-Ottawa, Quebec. (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN.)

Two teams — led by a captain and assistant captain — will select three goaltenders, six defensemen and 12 forwards each. Team Alfredsson will be led by captain Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa) and assistant captain Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers); Team Chara will be led by captain Zdeno Chara (Boston) and assistant captain Joffrey Lupul (Toronto).

Click here to see a photo gallery of all the 2012 NHL All-Stars

As we saw at the 2011 All-Star Game in Carolina, the Fantasy Draft can unfold in an unpredictable manner. Last year it was ‘Canes goalie and hometown favorite Cam Ward going first overall and Toronto’s Phil Kessel suffering the ignominy of being Mr. Irrelevant.

With that said, let’s predict the 2012 All-Star Fantasy Draft!

(But first, a quick overview of the protocol.)

Rules and regulations

— A coin toss will decide first pick with Alfredsson and Chara, joined by their assistant captains, alternately drafting the 38 remaining All-Stars through 19 rounds.

— To ensure that the final draft picks are true selections and not predetermined due to position requirements, each team’s three goalies must be picked by the end of Round 10.

— Each team’s six defensemen must be picked by the conclusion of Round 15.

For your consideration

1) Home cooking: As we saw in Carolina, hometown players have an advantage. Ward went first overall and 19-year-old rookie Jeff Skinner was taken in the 11th round, nullifying the “veterans first, newbies last” theory many thought would prevail.

Some hometown and local players to consider this year? Ottawa’s Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson; Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf and Kessel (more on him later); Montreal’s Carey Price and former Senators Marian Hossa and Brian Elliott.

2) Star Power: Of course, captains could just pick the best players right off the hop. If that’s the case, look for NHL leading scorer Evgeni Malkin to be snapped up quickly along with Claude Giroux, Steve Stamkos and Pavel Datsyuk.

3) Ties that bind: Past relationships tend to play a big role. NHLers have long memories — last year, Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis picked Boston’s Tim Thomas and made a point of mentioning they were former teammates at the University of Vermont, dating back to 1993.

So in that vein, consider the relationships each captain and assistant have:

— Chara has two Boston teammates (Thomas, Tyler Seguin) and two Slovakian Olympic teammates (Hossa, Marian Gaborik) in the draft pool. Chara and Hossa were also former teammates in Ottawa.

— Lupul has Toronto teammates Phaneuf and Kessel, played in Philadelphia with Kimmo Timonen and is good friends with Scott Hartnell. Lupul is also a former teammate of Anaheim’s Corey Perry.

— Alfredsson has his Ottawa running mates (Spezza, Michalek, Karlsson) and his fellow Swedes to choose from: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Alex Edler. Like Chara, Alfie is also a former teammate of Hossa.

— Lundqvist has two Rangers teammates (Gaborik and Dan Girardi.)

3) Guys that went late last year: Kessel, chosen last overall, obviously tops the list, though he swears being Mr. Irrelevant didn’t bother him. It seems there are two ways to go on Kessel — one, make amends for last year and select him near the top of the draft, or 2) keep the joke going and take him with the final pick again.

Other late picks from last year: Perry (15th round, 29th overall), Karlsson (14th round, 27th overall), Giroux (13th round, 25th overall) and defensemen Kris Letang and Keith Yandle, both of whom were taken in Round 12 (23rd and 24th overall.)

PHT Related

Online bookmaker posts All-Star Fantasy Draft odds

Lupul to Hartnell: Chara “doesn’t like you very much”

Jonathan Quick talks All-Star Game, Fantasy Draft

Eberle, Letang added to NHL All-Star Game roster


The NHL has announced its first two injury replacements for the 2012 NHL All-Star game in Ottawa.

Out: Minnesota forward Mikko Koivu and Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien.

In: Edmonton forward Jordan Eberle and Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang.

The two newest players will add an infusion of youth to the ASG. Eberle, 21, leads the Oilers in goals, assists and points and will be making his NHL All-Star Game debut in Ottawa while Letang, 24, will be making his fourth appearance (two YoungStars/Rookie-Sophomore appearances, two ASGs).

Letang has 23 points in 25 games this season and is playing an average of 26:13 per game for the Penguins.

If you’re looking for potential objections to either of these replacements, look no further than the city of Philadelphia. Flyers fans (and coaches!) have been outspoken in saying Scott Hartnell is deserving of an All-Star spot…and to be honest, they’ve got a point. Hartnell is fifth in the NHL in goals, with 25, and leads the league with 13 power-play markers. Not to discredit the body of work Eberle’s put forth, of course.

On defense, it’s hard to argue with the Letang addition — if he’s healthy, he deserves to go — though Jason Garrison, who leads all defensemen with 13 goals, is a worthy candidate.

That said, both Hartnell and Garrison may still get a chance to go to Ottawa. Jamie Benn, Jonathan Toews and Ryan Suter (yes, even though he’s back tonight) are all dealing with injury issues and could potentially be held out of the All-Star festivities.

Boston coach Julien, captain Chara reunited at All-Star Game

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The NHL has announced the coaching assignments for the 2012 All-Star game, and it appears one team will have a decidedly Boston feel.

Zdeno Chara — named one of the two ASG captains — will be coached by his regular Boston Bruins staff, featuring head coach Claude Julien and assistants Doug Jarvis, Geoff Ward and Doug Houda.

(We’ve now mentioned Houda twice in one day on PHT, which has to be some kind of record.)

Julien and his assistants were rewarded with the All-Star coaching spot thanks to their Stanley Cup win last spring. This year, they’ve led the Bruins to a 30-13-1 mark, tops in the Northeast Division — the Bs are also just one of two teams right now with 30 wins, the other being Detroit.

As for the other All-Star captain — Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson — he’ll be coached by New York Rangers bench boss John Tortorella and San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. The two earned ASG coaching honors for leading their respective conferences in points percentage through the midpoint of the 2011-12 regular season, which was Monday, Jan. 9.

Chara and Alfredsson will round out their rosters at the All-Star Player Fantasy Draft on Jan. 26.

Thornton to All-Star captain Chara: Don’t pick any Canucks


Boston Bruins tough guy Shawn Thorton has offered up some advice to teammate Zdeno Chara as the gargantuan blueliner preps for All-Star captaincy duties.

When it comes time to draft teams, don’t draft any Canucks.

“If it was me,” Thornton said on The Toucher and Rich Show (98.5 The Sports Hub, Boston) this morning.  “I probably wouldn’t pick somebody from Vancouver.”

Thornton’s comments are hardly surprising given what’s transpired recently. The ongoing debate over his non-fight with Vancouver’s Dale Weise (yes, Weise ducked out of it) spilled over to the media, resulting in a televised confrontation with a Vancouver-based sportswriter who questioned Thornton’s enforcer ethics.

Also, the Bruins dislike the Canucks and Thornton’s a Bruin. So there’s that.

Thornton also had some drafting advice with regards to his and Chara’s former Bruins teammate, Phil Kessel. Kessel was Mr. Irrelevant a year ago — taken last overall, a somewhat humiliating moment — and Thornton thinks it’d be funny for Kessel to get it again.

“Absolutely, and for no other reason then I would think it was funny that he got picked last for a couple years in a row,” he said. “I would try to keep it going for as long as possible.”