NHL 2019-20 Recap Week 16 – All-Stars shine in St. Louis, new skills events and too many missing All-Stars
The annual NHL All-Star Game festivities emanated from St. Louis, Missouri. The NHL Skills Competition was up first. The Blues did a great job of mixing in old NHL legends during it, even if it was a little cheesy at times. Connor McDavid losing his fastest skater title was unexpected. Shea Weber winning the hardest shot was not. The new events were alright. I don’t mind trying to mix the women in more but I ended up making dinner during their game. I watched some of the last women’s gold medal game and I enjoyed it. But I don’t really want to watch a game during the skills competition. I want to watch the skills competition. It honestly should have went on last but I have a feeling they felt people would have left if that were the case. The Shooting Stars, conceived from a Pittsburgh Penguins commercial featuring Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, was fine for what it was but it has one major flaw. Everyone is shooting for the 10 point target in the middle. They really need to have multiple 10 point targets to freshen it up. They also need to drive home the fact that you can win by hitting multiple lesser point targets instead of hitting the 10 point target twice. The event desperately needs more strategy. The other problem was it wasn’t clear what constituted hitting the 10 point target. A few of those that didn’t count looked fine to me. What difference does it make if it hit the side and went in. The point is it went in. That’s all that should matter. My biggest gripe was losing the Puck Control and Premier Passer events. Those are my favorite events for so many reasons. I particularly love it when players struggle with the mini nets. They better bring them back next year. This year’s competition also ballooned to three hours. I don’t mind that. But it’s funny how they increased the run time to two and a half hours and they weren’t even close.
Things I like
1. The first All-Star game between the Atlantic and Metropolitan wasn’t that great. It seemed like they weren’t trying very hard. Braden Holtby really didn’t look like he was trying. I don’t think pulling the goalie in a 3 on 3 All-Star game is a wise idea. Unless there’s like 30 seconds left and you are down by one. It’s too easy for the opponent to score and it’s not like it’s all that challenging to get decent scoring opportunities at even strength. The second game was decent but we all know the Central Division is cursed. They’ve only ever one a game once and it never goes well when there’s too many players from the same NHL team on an All-Star team. The finals were the best. Frederik Andersen was phenomenal. If he would have played the whole game, the Atlantic team would have won it all. One thing that amazes me about the Pacific year after year is how good their chemistry is between players. No matter who is on the team. They never play with each other but it feels like they have. And Connor McDavid and Leon Draistial together is just not fair.
Things I don’t
1. It’s not much of All-Star game when the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Auston Matthews and Evgeni Malkin aren’t playing in it. Ovechkin decided against playing in it for the second year in a row. Sitting out once is alright but doing it twice shouldn’t be allowed. It’s not like the game is incredibly grueling. The fans want to see you, just play. Matthews was injured which sucks. Crosby was injured but he came back and is playing well. Evgeni Malkin who always gets screwed because of Crosby, now gets screwed for no reason. Brad Marchand was also absent, despite being sixth in scoring. He should have been the replacement for Matthews. Instead we get Brady Tkachuk, who I imagine was only selected for the Tkachuk family angle. While nice, I rather having someone more deserving be selected.
2. The NHL All-Decade teams was announced. I honestly didn’t even know that was a thing. Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty and Marc-Andre Fleury were named to the first team. You aren’t going to get much of an argument from me on the first five. But Marc-Andre Fleury? I like Fleury but there’s no way he can be on this team. He was dreadful in some seasons. That’s the whole reason he’s on the Golden Knights now. Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos, Patrice Bergeron, Erik Karlsson, Zdeno Chara and Henrik Lundqvist round out the second team. There’s a whole bunch of question marks on this one. I don’t have enough time to really dissect it all. The only one I’m fine with is Malkin. But I guy who was named the second best center of the decade should have way more than five All-Star game appearances in 15 seasons. It just proves how ridiculous the selection process is. The Lundqvist and Chara picks are alright. But the rest… I think major discussions need to be made.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Mark Scheifele vs Brett Pesce
There was only one fight this week because of the All-Star game. And here it is. It wasn’t bad but it was really short.
Goat of the Week
None this week
Stat Line of the Week
01/21/20 Florida 4 vs Chicago 3
The Florida Panthers have been on a bit of a roll lately. They strung together two one goal wins right before the All-Star break. In the first game, they beat the Minnesota Wild by scoring a goal with only 5.6 seconds left. In the second game, coach Joel Quenneville returned to Chicago. The Panthers were aided by a hat trick by Frank Vatrano, the second of his career, in this victory. Vatrano didn’t play much in his first four years in the NHL. But he’s found a home in Florida and he’s producing well in his sixth season. He has amassed nine points during his current five game point streak. He currently has 14 goals. Not bad for an undrafted player.
5 – Goals by Tomas Hertl in the All-Star game, including the game winner
4 – Goals by David Pastrnak in the All-Star game
4 – Goals by Leon Draisaitl in the All-Star game
.556 – SV% for Braden Holtby and Frederik Andersen in Game 1
.889 – SV% for Frederik Andersen in Game 3
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
January 20, 2004 New Jersey’s Scott Clemmensen became the 16th goalie in modern history to record his 1st career shutout in his first career start, Turner Stevenson had two goals and an assist, and Jeff Friesen scored his 200th NHL goal in a 3-0 win at Pittsburgh.
January 21, 2000 Valeri Bure scored at 3:06 of overtime to give the Flames a 5-4 win against the visiting Nashville Predators. It was the Flames’ 9th OT win of the season, a new NHL record. The Winnipeg Jets held the old mark with 8 OT wins in 1987-88.
January 22, 1977 Goaltender Tony Esposito recorded his 58th career shutout in the Black Hawks’ 3-0 win over the Red Wings at Detroit.
January 23, 2001 Peter Bondra became the Washington Capitals all-time leader in game-winning goals, when he picked up the 55th of his career in a 5-2 win against the Lightning at Tampa Bay. He broke the record held by Mike Gartner.
January 24, 1996 Kevin Dineen played his 500th career game with the Hartford Whalers, in the team’s 4-2 loss in Buffalo. Dineen became the second player to appear in 500 games in a Hartford uniform.
January 25, 1972 Defenseman Bobby Orr set up Phil Esposito for the winning goal to lift the East Division All-Stars over the West, 3-2 in the NHL All Star Game. Orr earned the MVP award for his offensive and defensive heroics.
January 26, 2002 Carolina’s Ron Francis had an assist to move into second place on the all-time NHL career assists list with 1,170 (passing Ray Bourque); the milestone came in a 4-2 loss to the Flyers at Philadelphia.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
3. Tampa Bay
29. Los Angeles
27. New Jersey