Last time I watched an NHL All-Star Game, I had to do a running diary just to stay awake. So rather than take any chances, I'm doing the same this year.
8:09 Â– Unkle Kracker introduces Robert Randolph and the Family Band, which cranks out a pretty cool song while a very nice video montage of player highlights rolls. Not bad, NHL marketers, not bad.
8:12 Â– Vincent Lecavalier is introduced to the crowd. Did you know you can substitute his full name into the chorus of Busta Rhymes' Â“Pass The CourvoisierÂ” and not miss a beat?
8:14 Â– Yup, it's going to be that type of review.
8:17 Â– If you had told me two years ago Andy McDonald would be playing in this game, I'd have asked you to say hello to Tara Reid and Lindsay Lohan for me next time you were out Â“partyingÂ” together.
8:18 Â– That goes double for Yanic Perreault.
8:19 Â– Is it me, or does Ryan Miller look like he should be fronting an emo band?
8:21 Â– Hey, Razor Ramon is in net for the Western Conference.
8:24 Â– Gotta feel for whomever it was the league hired to sing the Canadian national anthem. First, her end-of-song histrionics made Celine Dion look like Lou Reed. Then, she wiped out while leaving the red carpet on the ice. Even Alexandre Daigle didn't have as disastrous a debut.
8:30 Â– A swanky new piece of technology debuts, allowing the announce crew to talk directly to Ramon (Roberto Luongo) while he's warming up between the pipes. Luongo sounds as chatty as Jack Bauer was in Chinese custody.
8:36 Â– First goal goes to Daniel Briere. CBC analyst Harry Neale then rhymes off a list of Briere's achievements this season that makes the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent's agent a very happy man.
8:38 Â– It's the return of the rail cam. And it's very welcome.
8:48 Â– Teemu Selanne roofs it past Miller for a brilliant goal to put the West up 2-1. And to think we almost lost the Finnish Flash to a horrendous brand of pre-lockout hockey. Something to bear in mind as the obstruction crackdown slowly slips away and as coaches strive to kill any remaining creativity.
9:02 Â– Lubomir Visnovsky scores on a weird deflection, and we go into the first intermission tied at three. You know, I've often been accused of wanting to see 9-7 games in the NHL and I'm here to confess that it's true. If it's good enough for baseball, it's good enough for this league.
9:09 Â– It's Bettman Vs. MacLean: The Malice in Dallas!
9:22 Â– Shockingly, Bettman stays on message: Every league initiative or circumstance is either (a) fine; or (b) on its way to being fine. Feel better? Me neither.
9:26 Â– The second period begins, and Luongo is on the bench. His replacement, Miikka Kiprusoff, is not wired for sound. And for good reason.
9:34 Â– After two big-time hook jobs on two separate breakaways go unpunished, it's official: the officials aren't really trying, either.
9:37 Â– The difference between the NHL and other sports, Pt. 8,967,312: During All-Star Games in other leagues, reporters go out into the crowd and interview Jack Nicholson, Jay Z and Oprah Winfrey. During the NHL All-Star game, reporters go into the crowd and interview Sheldon Souray's relatives who drove 33 hours to see the game.
9:38 Â– Zdeno Chara joins the rush, takes a feed from Briere and goes to his backhand to beat Kiprusoff and give the East a 5-4 lead. Can you imagine Chara as a full-time forward? If defensemen think they've got it tough nowÂ…
9:51 Â– Perreault scores his second of the game to make it 8-5. What a great story it'll be if the game's MVP honors go to a humble, affable guy who's been an afterthought on just about every NHL team he's ever played for, a guy who nobody bothered to sign until a month into this season. That's the kind of story Hollywood will always be interested in exploiting and distorting beyond recognition.
9:53 Â– Alex Ovechkin beats fellow East superstar Sidney Crosby to the scoresheet, thanks in large part to Brendan Shanahan's Greco-Roman leglock on Kiprusoff. If this were a regular season game, Shanny would be extremely familiar with Kipper's stick by now.
10:02 Â– Rolston's second of the night cuts the West's lead to 9-6 as the third period beckons. That's four points for the Wild center, who has seized the lead in the MVP race from linemate Perreault.
10:06 Â– Rolston smiles his way through an entire intermission interview. See, rest of the NHLPA membership, it's not just an urban legend Â– it can be done!
10:33 Â– Fourteen different players have scored so far tonight. Man, even the All-Star Game has parity.
10:37 Â– Nash scores his second of the game and restores the West's three-goal advantage. I'd expect a fight any second now. How else is East coach Lindy Ruff going to change the momentum?
10:42 Â– A great pass from Marian Hossa leads to Chara's second goal, which makes it 10-8. And Crosby is still pointless. Reebok, Tim Horton's, Gatorade and the entire NHL marketing corps can't be happy with that.
10:51 Â– I'm starting to notice an increasing number of empty seats in the lower bowl of the arena as the game goes on. Who switched the real fans with business weasels from the Air Canada Centre?
10:52 Â– Yes, you're absolutely right in assuming that when I'm noticing the stands more than the on-ice events, I'm ready for the game to end.
11:03 Â– Sweet merciful heavens, it's finally over. The score: 12-9. The MVP: Briere, with five points. The best part: the next All-Star Game will never be further away than it is right now.
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