In case you need incentive
By Darren Eliot | NHL.com columnist
February 5, 2004
Many people denigrate All-Star games because they aren't "real." If
you fall into that group then consider the following reasons for
10. Fifteen first-time All-Stars -- When you add the likes of Roberto
Luongo, Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Shane Doan to the 22
participants in the YoungStars game, the future of the NHL will truly
be on display in St. Paul.
9. Offense on Display -- This game promises to lend itself more to
the best offensive players displaying their goal-scoring attributes,
those instincts that are so often muted in today's game that is
increasingly about stifling team defense.
8. Defensemen Engaged -- Guys like Scott Niedermayer and Wade Redden,
excellent offensive players in their own right, but cautious in their
approach to joining the attack during the regular season, will feel
more at ease joining the rush and demonstrating their skating prowess.
7. Goalie Gear not an Issue -- With more skating and offensive flow
comes more lateral puck movement on the attack, meaning goalies will
have to read the play and react accordingly, moving side-to-side to
make saves instead of simply hunkering down and setting up for a shot.
6. Cheer for the Journeyman's Hero -- That is goaltender Dwayne
Roloson. Here is a guy who had more minor league games than NHL games
prior to last season. Here is a guy who never had a winning season in
an NHL uniform until last year. After all of that, at the age of 34,
Roloson is making an All-Star appearance -- making him the toast of
5. Honorary First Hit -- With physical play suspended for the day,
the question always arises, "Who will stray from convention and throw
the first body-check?" In recent years, Jeremy Roenick has taken it
upon himself to end the speculation and JR is always a good bet, but
this year guys like Todd Bertuzzi or Keith Primeau might beat him to
4. Over/Under -- With the emphasis on offense, the easy view is that
goal scoring will dominate. Yet, last year the goaltenders were
phenomenal, especially Marty Turco -- voted as the starter in the
Western Conference this year -- and Patrick Lalime in the third
period. They almost kept the game to a single-digit total, despite
numerous outnumbered attacks.
3. Smiles -- An intense competitor like Gary Roberts seldom lightens
up during the season. As the grumpiest of the Maple Leafs' grumpy old
men, there is a chance to glimpse Roberts smiling -- instead of
sneering or snarling -- in this setting.
2. The State of Hockey -- With the Minnesota Wild hosting the
proceedings, you know that the game will be first class. They know
how to do hockey.
And the No. 1 reason to tune into this weekend's All-Star Game? It
may not be a "real" game, but it promises to be real entertaining and
after all, that is the point.