Although Las Vegas doesn't come to mind when you think of Hockey, this year's NHL All-Star festivities showed there's no better place to hold such an event. Despite the NHL fully taking advantage of the fun location, the players couldn't have looked more unhappy. Nobody smiled except Kyle Connor and Timo Meier. Tom Wilson did when he was booed, and Connor McDavid smirked when they mentioned he was the three-time fastest skater champion.
The Bellagio fountain face-off event was my favorite. It had the wow factor between the sights, sounds, and challenges. There is nothing like lighted pucks soaring through the air into little floating islands while the water fountain splashes. I like it when the NHL randomly adds Olympic women to the events, especially when they beat most of the men. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson came in third. The activating the pucks slowed the players down and disrupted their rhythm. I don't see why they couldn't be activated already. The night's best line goes to Claude Giroux complaining he was cold. It was in the 50's. He plays ice hockey for a living and grew up in Hearst, Ontario, where the average winter temperature is 10 degrees. I hope they keep this event.
The 21 in 22 blackjack card event was unique but too easy. I thought the cards would be turned backward to make it harder and more like an actual blackjack game. Instead, everyone was tied for most of the rounds because they do this for a living. It was odd that one player could get 21 points on two turns and another on four. I believe certain cards could be used again, depending on how damaged they were. The concept was awesome the execution was poor.
The eco-friendly targets were introduced during last year's NHL Accuracy Shooting and didn't return. I guess there goes caring about the environment. Still a great event, but I was surprised by how bad Leon Draisaitl did.
The breakaway challenge is usually a letdown. This year was a little more creative. Trevor Zegras was the best of the night with his blind dodgeball goal, but I expected more. Jack Hughes was imaginative, but the magic part was silly, and we've seen kids score goals before. It wasn't that great. Then Jon Hamm sabotaged the voting so Alex Pietrangelo could win. That's funny, but it would have been better if his attempt weren't lame. He had two cracks at it, and both were. I don't understand what he was trying to do on the second attempt, which was supposed to be good.
The hardest shot and fastest skater are getting lame. They aren't fun to watch. I miss the obstacle course relay. Long live the mini nets!
Things I like
- This All-Star game was the most competitive since the first game under the new format. Usually, there's one blowout game. But the final was fairly predictable as the Pacific and Metropolitain have alternated wins every year. Each has won three times, and the other divisions have never won. I prefer the conference-based first-round match-ups over randomly throwing two divisions together. The goalies made some great saves and kept the scoring much lower than it could have been. Giroux won MVP with only four points in the two games.
ESPN interviewed Tyreek Hill during the game while we watched two goals on a tiny screen. He also bashed two beers on his head, and the broadcast cut away to that as if we were supposed to care. I assure you I don't. They also interviewed Derek Carr during the skills competition, which also came off forced and awkward. I get it. Hockey is cool because NFL players like it. Let's go viral.
Things I don't
- There's nothing worse than people who don't take accountability for their mistakes. We all make them because we're human. I don't like admitting mine either, but I do. Rocky Wirtz is an insecure old man despite primarily owning the Chicago Blackhawks and having a half a billion-dollar net worth. It goes to show you money can't buy everything. After a reporter asked about the Kyle Beach saga, he responded with, we aren't going to talk about that, and you don't work here, so it's none of your business. Yikes. I'm not going to comment on that response other than I'd have no interest in playing for the Blackhawks if I could or sending my son there if he could. He later apologized, but it's like he didn't learn anything. But people up top with money rarely do because there is no one to hold them accountable, and rules never apply to them. Gary Bettman could, but he chose to coddle him further by saying his outburst was frustration. Aww, poor baby. How frustrated do you think Kyle Beach felt?
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Mason Marchment vs Ryan Strome
Not the most elegant fight, but still entertaining.
Liam O'Brien vs Erik Gudbranson
Slow but long.
William Lagesson vs Tim Stützle
More like a UFC fight.
Goat of the Week
Jesper Bratt - New Jersey Devils
Bratt tried to pass the puck through two Maple Leafs on the power play. Predictably, it didn't go well, and the Maple Leafs went the other way for a short-handed and game-winning goal. The Maple Leafs added another for four unanswered third-period goals after entering down 4-2.
Stat Line of the Week
01/31/21 Florida 8 vs. Columbus 4
Skater TOI G A +/- SOG PIM M.Marchmant 15:30 2 4 6 6 2
In his second season, undrafted Mason Marchment had his best night ever, posting two goals and six points. He scored the first goal 32 seconds into the game and the last goal, the only goal of the third. Marchmant racked up twelve points in four games. Everyone is having a career year with the Panthers, including Marchmant.
402 – Career NHL Points for Auston Matthews
1.90 – GAA and .941 SV% for St. Louis Blues goalie Ville Husso, the only goalie under two and over .940
37 – Age of Joe Pavelski, the oldest All-Star since Jaromir Jagr at 43
34 – Age of Cam Talbot, the oldest first-time All-Star since Johnny Bower at 36
5 – Points for Jordan Kyrou the most scored during the All-Star games
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
- NY Rangers
- New Jersey