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Tonight's Flyerless Skills Competition, and more notes from All-Star Weekend in Raleigh

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Danny Briere talks to media before the All-Star Draft on Friday night. Photo by Cassie McClellan, <a href="" target="new">Raw Charge</a>.
Danny Briere talks to media before the All-Star Draft on Friday night. Photo by Cassie McClellan, Raw Charge.

RALEIGH -- When you found out that Claude Giroux was going to be an All-Star, what was the first thing that came to your mind? For me, it was "Holy crap, that guy is going to tear the Skills Competition a new one" .... or, you know, something like that. 

So earlier today, when they announced the rosters for tonight's Skills Competition, I was shocked to find out that Giroux and fellow Flyer Danny Briere would be on the sidelines for most of the night's events. They'll both take part in the Skills Challenge Relay, a new event this year, as well as the Elimination Shootout, which every All-Star is a part of.

Here's the NHL's explanation of the new event.

This new event for 2011 is an all-around competition that will showcase the one-timer, passing, puck control, stick-handling and accuracy shooting in four exciting relays.  In the one-timer event, three shooters (with the assistance of one passer) must score three goals over an eight inch barrier; in the passing event, one passer must complete a pass into each of the six nets set up around the rink; in the puck control event, one skater will skate through a series of cones while keeping possession of the puck; in the stick handling event, one skater will control the puck through a series of obstacles; and in the accuracy shooting event, one player will take aim at four targets.  Each skill must be completed before moving on to the next skill in this timed relay event worth a total of eight points. The group with the fastest time will score four points, second place will score three points and third place will score one point.

Briere will bring up the rear in Team Lidstrom's Group 2, which makes me assume that he'll be doing the accuracy portion. Giroux is the third of six in Team Staal's Group 1. 

Want somebody to blame for not being able to see nearly enough of your All-Stars tonight? Blame the captains, from Nicklas Lidstrom to Eric Staal to Martin St. Louis, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Kane and Mike Green. Jerks. 

More notes from Raleigh after the jump...

- First off, this region is all about hockey this weekend. Downtown Raleigh has been a giant celebration of the game for the last two days, with streets blocked off and hockey exhibits and fireworks and all kinds of awesomeness. There's a hockey jersey everywhere you look, whether it's at the hotel in Cary, NC or the hotel downtown or the Convention Center or the RBC Center. I'll have more on on Monday about how high Raleigh has set the bar for next year's game in Ottawa. 

- The All-Star Draft last night was an awesome event, albeit clearly a made for TV event. I won't complain about how they handled the media because nobody cares (it wasn't great, for the record), but as far as the fan interaction with the event, which is really the only thing that matters, the NHL seemed to do a fantastic job.

- I saw Henrik Lundqvist on the street outside the Raleigh Convention Center last night. I made some remark about the Flyers. He seemed annoyed. 

- One of the storylines of the weekend has become Danny Briere's relationship with his kids and how the All-Star Game, for all its flaws, is a fantastic event for the players and their families. Not taking anything away from that sentiment, but it's getting to be a little much, to be honest. 

- Peter Laviolette is so laid back this weekend. Usually we see him as the intense, goal-oriented guy with the Flyers, but this weekend he's been able to let his guard down and enjoy things a bit. It's nice to see. It also probably helps that he's in his element here in Raleigh, where he's still a hero who brought the organization a Stanley Cup.

- Man, do these people know how to tailgate. They were out before noon to tailgate the Skills Competition. Just think about that for a second. I might go wander the parking lots tomorrow and do a story on just how good they are at it, because honestly, us Philadelphians could learn a thing or two.

That's it for now. The rundown for the evening: Gary Bettman press conference at 6 p.m., Skills Competition starts at 7 p.m. We'll have a discussion thread up at 6:30.