Team Alfredsson rallies to win skills competition


Team Alfredsson rallies to win skills competition

OTTAWA The Bruins were well-represented in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Scotiabank Place,and the players fomTeam Chara gave it their best shot inthe skills challenges. But it was the hometown Team Alfredsson that took home the 21-12 victory over Charas hand-picked playersdespite theB's Captain's squadwinning each of the first three competitions en route to a big victory with some pretty cool highlights along the way. Here are the breakdowns of each competition with some description of the Bs involvement:

Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater: It was down to rookies Carl Hagelin (New York Rangers) and Colin Greening (Ottawa Senators) in the final heat, and it appeared Haggs who I was clearly rooting for given his name won the race when his body crossed the finish line first. But a review of the tape (yes, they really went to the video replay) showed that Greenings extended stick actually crossed the line before the Rags speedy rookie.

Allstate Insurance NHL Breakaway Challenge: Carey Price nearly stole the show with his blind goaltender and backwards save stops in the crease while NHL breakaway artists converged on him. But Pat Kane eventually stole the show when he donned a Superman cape and Clark Kent glasses for a pair of winning attempts one a hand-to-stick pass on his belly that had an Up, up and away flair to it and the second an exploding puck clearly brought on by Kanes super-strength. Corey Perry finished as the runner-up after several creative moves including using a mini-stick in his final shootout attempt.

Canadian Tire NHL Accuracy Shooting: It ended with Philadelphia Flyers rookie Matt Read going up against Dallas Stars Jamie Benn fresh off an appendectomy. Benn took it in dominant fashion while Bs forward Tyler Seguin struggled with Phil Kessel feeding him passes in the preliminary accuracy rounds.G Series NHL Skills Relay Challenge: Henrik and Daniel Sedin dominated with their feathery passing and soft hockey skills and registered an easy victory for Team Alfredsson.

Blackberry NHL Hardest Shot: Zdeno Chara captured his fifth straight hardest shot title after defeating Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber yet again with a record 108.8-mph slap shot. Chara broke his own personal record with an earlier shot of 106.2-mph on the evening and then completely shattered that seconds later by becoming the first NHL player to top 108-mph with a slapper. Said Chara on the ice right after the contest was over, I had great years in Ottawa. I wanted to break the record here.

Tim Hortons NHL Elimination Shootout: It comes down to John Tavares, Jason Pominville and Steve Stamkos in the final rounds of the shootout, and Stamkos was able to beat Jimmy Howard in the final round to take home the victory. Tyler Seguin was eliminated in the early rounds on an outstanding save by St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott.

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.