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Gaudreau takes wow factor to Vegas for NHL All-Star event



Calgary Flames

The NHL got it right picking Johnny Gaudreau as the Calgary Flames representative in Vegas this weekend.

Not so sure they nailed it when handing out the skills competition assignments.

Gaudreau will be participating in the accuracy shooting competition on Friday night. And while there’s no doubt he’ll do well sniping, he won’t get to display the slick, creative puck-handling moves he’s been pulling off in games over the first half of the season. At least not in the skills competition.

“As long as I’m not doing fastest skater, I’ll be fine doing whatever skill they want me to do,” Gaudreau said after Wednesday night’s win over the Arizona Coyotes.

Despite the high speeds he’s hit dangling around some of his opponents recently, you’d think he’d be competitive there. But he reiterated that one just isn’t for him.

“No, not during that weekend,” he said with a huge smile stretching across his face.

The quality of competition will be steep in the speed category.

And his teammates would quickly pile on and tell him his muffin has no chance in hardest shot.

With 18 goals in 42 games so far, he’s shown a lot of accuracy, but it would have been nice to see him doing breakaways or trick shots more aligned with the wow factor he’s put forward.

On Wednesday, he flipped a puck to himself from behind the net with pressure, then batted it just wide of the Coyotes net in the 4-2 win. Had he connected, it might have trumped both Trevor Zegras moves this season as the most talked about goals.

“Johnny’s a hell of a player. When he’s feeling it like he has been lately, I don’t know if there’s a better player in the league,” said Calgary Flames defenceman Chris Tanev.

Tanev had a career-high four points but found himself talking about Gaudreau on Wednesday night.

So did Blake Coleman, who had his first multi-goal game as a member of the Calgary Flames.

“He’s a rock star,” Coleman said. “He looks like he’s playing pond hockey with his buddies, a bunch of 13-year-old buddies. The way he plays the game, it’s fun to watch. It’s probably even more fun to be him and play that way. I wish I could do that.

“He’s one of those guys, on a nightly basis, where he has moments you kind of stand up and say wow. It’s special to watch. Obviously, he’s in a well-deserved spot to represent our team in the All-Star game.”

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