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All-star goalies have no illusions of shining in wide open game

The Canadian Press
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Boston Bruins Tim Thomas, second right, picks Ilya Kovalchuk, for the skills shootout competition as fellow goaltenders Niklas Backstrom, left, from the Minnesota Wild, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, from the Anaheim Ducks, and New York Rangers Henrik Lundqvist, right, react during the media availability in Montreal Friday, Jan. 23, 2009, in advance of this weekend\'s National Hockey League All-star game. In the middle is moderator Pierre Houde. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz Author: The Hockey News

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All-star goalies have no illusions of shining in wide open game

The Canadian Press
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MONTREAL - Anaheim Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere can see a lot of benefits that may come out of his first career all-star appearance, especially with Sunday's game being in his hometown.

But the Western Conference starting netminder knows his presence at the all-star festivities will do nothing to re-assure himself on his ability to stop pucks.

Giguere went into the break with just one win in his last nine starts.

"I definitely didn't come here to get my confidence back," he said with a big laugh Friday. "The goal here is to have some fun. There will be events, parties, receptions all weekend, and I also get a chance to meet all the superstar players that are here. I'm pretty impressed to meet some of the guys that are here. These guys are much bigger stars than I am."

It's a good thing Giguere is not taking his role as all-star goalie too seriously, because the men between the pipes rarely get to showcase all their talents.

The wide-open games with little defence and even less hitting are like shooting galleries for the goalies, who are each mercifully exposed to only 20 minutes of target practice for the best snipers and playmakers in the NHL.

All six goalies playing in Sunday's all-star game said they have no expectation of walking away with the Most Valuable Player award.

"You're not playing for stats or anything," said Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. "It's like a shinny hockey game or playing on a pond, you just go out and play. It doesn't really matter how many goals you give up or anything like that, it's about having fun with the guys and putting on a show for the fans."

Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens said despite the disadvantage for goalies and a wonky ankle that cost him three weeks of action this month, there was no way he would miss appearing in this game in his home rink.

"When I got hurt and thought about missing this game I was pretty heartbroken, but it was fortunate enough for me I got healthy at the right time," Price said. "If I'm healthy I'm going to play in it. This event was always one of my favourites growing up as a kid."

Still, there is one other aspect that made it more appetizing for Price - that he won't be facing Eastern Conference teammate Alex Ovechkin.

"Thank God," Price said, putting his hands together and staring to the sky. "I'm not looking forward to taking his shots in practice though."

Goalies are normally extremely proud, but they will all have to put that ego aside and accept their role in this offensive showcase.

"You have to make the best of it," said Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild, who will make his all-star debut. "You don't like letting in goals, so you have to go out there and fight for every puck and try to stop every puck. You're living your dream to have a chance to play with these guys. It'll be a weekend to remember for the rest of your life."

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All-star goalies have no illusions of shining in wide open game