NHL All-Star Game 2012: Updated Skills Competition Predictions

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IJanuary 26, 2012

NHL All-Star Game 2012: Updated Skills Competition Predictions

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    Tonight, captains Daniel Alfredsson and Zdeno Chara will draft players for their All-Star squads. These players will participate in the most exciting part of All-Star weekend: the skills competition.

    It is a night full of fun and friendly competition among rivals throughout the league. There are four individual events at the skills competition, so we wonder, what players are going to win in each category?

Bridgestone Fastest Skater

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    Carl Hagelin, New York Rangers

    Up until Wednesday, I had Marian Gaborik picked as the favorite in this event. Now that Carl Hagelin has been added as a rookie, he is the favorite for this event in my eyes.

    Hagelin is probably the fastest player in the NHL. He plays on the same line as the previous fastest player in hockey, Marian Gaborik, but has shown that he is too fast for even Gaborik at times.

    As a fan, I hope the two are on different teams so they can square off. If I was a betting man, Carl Hagelin will end up on Team Alfredsson with fellow Swede Henrik Lundqvist.

    Honorable Mention: Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers

    Gaborik has competed in and won the fastest skater portion of the skills competition before, so he should have an upper hand against some of the competition. He now becomes an honorable mention with the emergence of his teammate Hagelin.

    Gaborik is widely considered to be the fastest skater in the NHL. He was even named the fastest skater by a THN poll. In an event where using your legs and speed is key, it is an event made for Gaborik.

    Odds are fellow countryman Zdeno Chara will pick Gaborik for his fantasy squad.

BlackBerry NHL Breakaway Challenge

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    Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings 

    Pavel Datsyuk has done some amazing things in the confines of a game when there are points on the line. Imagine what this puck wizard could do with no holds barred? Datsyuk is the best puck handler in the game and oozes creativity. 

    In this event, creativity, showmanship and jaw-dropping action can only benefit the participants. The winner of the breakaway challenge is determined by the fans.

    I had originally pegged Alex Ovechkin to win this event, but since he has chosen not to participate in All-Star weekend, Pavel Datsyuk should be the favorite if he is selected by his team.

XM Hardest Shot

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    Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

    Captain Zdeno Chara remains the favorite in my eyes to walk away as the winner of this event.

    Chara has the hardest slap shot in the NHL. Last year he set a new record at the skills competition when he blasted a 105.9 MPH shot. This record was later shattered in the KHL All-Star game last season.

    However this year, Alexander Ryazantsev set a new record shot of 114 MPH.

    Chara is a massive player with brute strength, so there is really no reason why he shouldn't repeat in this event, but can he improve the speed of his shot?

    Honorable Mention: Shea Weber 

    Shea Weber is another tall defenseman with a powerful slap shot. He has size, strength and can keep up with Chara. If he can capitalize on a mistake of Chara's early on, he could steal the event.

    Last year, he outshot Chara in a qualifying round, so anything can happen in this event.

McDonald's NHL Accuracy Shooting

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    Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

    After some thought and input from some various hockey fans and writers, Malkin has become a favorite to win this event.

    As of late, Malkin has really been on a tear and he leads the league in points. Malkin also has 26 goals and some of them have been scored with pin point accuracy.

    His shot is so accurate and lethal that he is a strong favorite to win the event.

    Honorable Mention Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

    With the addition of Malkin, I bumped Sedin down to become an honorable mention. Sedin is the defending champion in this event. It took him 7.3 seconds to knock out the four corner targets in the qualifying round of the event and 8.9 seconds in the final round against Patrick Kane.

    Sedin has one of the most accurate shots in the league and he has good hands. That much was clear during last year’s event.

    Tom Urtz, Jr. is an NHL featured columnist. For NHL news, updates and alerts about players:

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