East Takes West in Montreal

It was very important that the East won the All-Star game 12-11. In the spirit of Montreal’s centennial, a Canadien being the captain of the East, a Canadien taking the MVP award and the East defeating the West were instrumental in the success of the weekend.

For the first time in the history of the All-Stars, a Russian was selected to captain a team. Montreal’s very own Alex Kovalev was selected to head the East. This was an important night for Kovalev. He was voted in by the fans in Montreal to play. His teammates wanted him to take over the game. They wanted him to be the highlight of the evening and score as many goals as possible. They wanted him to get the MVP award… and he did.

This doesn’t mean that Roberto Luongo allowed himself to be scored on by “Kovie.” He had to prove that he could hit more then just the goal post in this game (which Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau joked about). And that goal in the shootout was what all of the players were talking about after the game. Not Ovechkin’s goal, but Kovalev’s goal in the shootout.

That’s what made this All-Star game so important for Kovalev and the rest of the All-Stars, they were taking part in one of the most historical moments in not only All-Star history, but Kovalev’s history as a hockey legend. Zach Parise listed Kovalev’s goal as his most favorite moment in the game (an exclusive with Parise will follow later this week for my Devils column).

Yes, this All-Star game went all the way to the shootout. Tim Thomas stopped the West, while Kovalev scored in the second round and Alex Ovechkin scored in the third round.

This game went 11-11 following the overtime buzzer. That’s the amazing thing about putting the best of the best from the eastern conference and the western conference together… you’ll get a 24 goal game that looked entirely like a pick-up hockey game. You won’t ever see something like that in a regular hockey game… not even in the playoffs, because no single team in the league has an entire team of extreme scoring talent. You only get to see something like that once a year (with an Olympic exception).

Kovalev had 2 goals and an assist, as well as a shootout goal. That’s what made him the VIP of the night. He said later that everyone told him to go out and keep shooting. They wanted him to be the MVP, so that’s what he went out and did. So if it seems like everyone was holding out a little bit so that Kovalev could be the hero of the night… it is possible that was how the players decided to play this game. They wanted him to be the hero of the weekend.

Now, hanging out by Montreal’s goaltender (the guy that makes all the girls swoon) Carey Price, I got to learn a few things about what goes on at the bench. Imagine my surprise when he said he was text messaging the entire time he was on the bench. He even spoke to his mother on the phone while he was sitting there! He said, “I have to give mom a shout out.” So for all those fans who claim that the players don’t do that… Carey Price says they do! Just imagine if they had a Blackberry with them!

When the shootout came around, Price said, “Somebody told me that we were gonna have to go back out and I started to sweat again.”

Also, an unexpected moment while we were interviewing Price was Boston rival Tim Thomas heading off to the showers and stopping in the doorway when he heard Price mention his name.

“I can’t follow Timmy’s moves,” Price said as Thomas was secretly listening in. “He’s way too fast for me.”

Thomas made a face and waved off the comment and headed for the showers. Of course, I giggled at that moment and Price turned to me to see why I was laughing and I pointed to the door. He turned to look and no one was there. He then looked back to me with a confused look and I said, “Tim was just walking by when you said that.” Price was surprised that what he assumed was a moment with the press was overheard by the guy he was talking about at that very moment. (At least it wasn’t bad!)

Alexander Ovechkin credited his great night to Price helping him out in practice. He said that Price probably hated him now because of it. When Price heard that he sighed and looked sharply down to the other end of the locker room where Ovechkin’s locker was and said, “I hate him when he does that. He comes in and gives me a knuckle ball all the time. I don’t know where he learned to do that but it’s pretty effective.”

As you can see, the guys were having a great time in there. It went into everything about the All-Star weekend…just to get out there and have as much fun as you possibly can. Besides the game and the skills competition, all of us had a bunch of parties to attend. The NHL knows how to go all out when they’re throwing a party.

Kovalev will not be keeping the car that he won. He will be auctioning it off with proceeds going to charity.

Chara also raised $24,000 for the Right to Play charity. He had enlisted the players in the Hardest Shot competition to each donate $1,000 and the winner would be able to donate it to their charity. The NHL matched that, as well as each player’s club matching each of their player’s individual contributions. Chara is a huge part of the Right to Play organization. Last summer, he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to increase awareness in Africa of the program.

As for Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin making up, they are back to being best friends again, but kept the conversation during Saturday night’s dinner completely on the professional side. Apparently, it was the coach’s idea to have Malkin assist Ovechkin in the Breakaway competition, not Ovechkin as I originally reported. They made up after the competition. I think Malkin’s limited English didn’t completely comprehend the question that was being asked of him after the Skills Competition.

I have to catch a plane back to New York, but I will let all of you know now that there will be more. I spent a lot of time in the locker room, so I will have a few interview exclusives this week with Zach Parise, Alex Kovalev, Mike Komisarek, Guy Carbonneau and possibly a few others. So be on the lookout for more from me this week as I wrap-up the weekend (maybe I’ll throw in a few photos).

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