NHL All-Star Weekend Had Its Moments

Ovechkin

They’re on the right track.

The NHL all-star weekend wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring, though Elliot Friedman looked in awe when he was interviewing Alyssa Milano for CBC.

I did feel partially entertained during some of the action. That’s a sign that they could be on to something.

One of the segments of Saturday’s superskills competition has real potential, the “Breakaway Challenge“, and it’s a shame more of the players didn’t embrace the style aspect to it.

Alex Ovechkin tried but may have needed a few more chances a la Nate Robinson in the NBA dunk contest a few years back. The league needs to get more liberal on the rules so the players can put on a show.

Other than that and the Youngstars game, Saturday was a bust.

The format of the Youngstars game was irritating. Two six-minute periods of three-on-three hockey… What is this, intramurals?

That said, all that open ice did conjure up some exciting moments and the more Patrick Kane breakaways we get to see, the better.

Also on the schedule was the hardest shot competition. It was interesting but boring, ditto for fastest skater, accuracy shooting and the obstacle course.

The elimination shootout had its moments but neither Ovechkin nor Kovalchuck were among the participants.

Saturday was also missing one crucial element, a young man who wears 87 and currently is hobbled with a high ankle sprain. He’s the best player in the NHL right now and even though there was enough talent on display, the entertainment value would have skyrocketed with his presence.

Nash All Star

Overall, Saturday showed absolutely no improvement over last year. At least then there was a longer Youngstars game.

Sunday night didn’t redeem the weekend. The main event dragged on at times as players were too unselfish and some great goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov and Rick Dipietro actually kept the scoring down. At least Jim Hughson did the play-by-play.

Strangely, Russians stole the show.

Ovechkin, who is now the most financially secure player in the NHL, had two goals in the East victory. His showmanship was evident during Saturday’s festivities and his competitive nature came out on Sunday.

Kovalchuck dazzled his hometown audience in Atlanta with an array of chances and made a conscious effort to be an entertainer, falling to the ice in disappointment after a Nabokov save.

Those two are what’s right with this game and for the first time in a long time, even though the game’s MVP was a Canadian (Eric Staal), foreign soil took center stage.

Another Russian, Evgeni Malkin, just 21 years old, found himself in the game after 87’s injury and played well though without much fanfare. Anze Kopitar made the first appearance by a Slovenian in an NHL all-star game, or any other major sports all-star game for that matter. Kopitar went largely unnoticed for most of the game but he was the youngest player in it at 20 years old.

If the Western Conference had won, Evgeni Nabokov may have been named MVP for his shutout performance in the second period, and he’s from the same country as Borat.

The game wasn’t entirely devoid of North Americans however as the aforementioned Staal took home the hardware. For the west, Rick Nash had a hat trick, giving him five career goals in all-star games. I think you can rubber stamp it now. He’s the best goal scorer in the Western Conference.

One thing puzzled me. The Thornton, Sedin and Gaborik line. The latter being the only player willing to shoot on a regular basis to begin with. That line had more passing in one shift than we’ll see in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

While you’ll probably hear columnists get on their soapbox about how the NHL needs to do away with this game, it’s a great environment to showcase the skill within the league.

It’s not perfect, but at least it had its moments.

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2 Responses

  1. As a critic of the All-Star game, I personally thought the third period was very entertaining. Both teams knew their pride was on the line and they wanted to win. It led to some awesome end to end action. Probably one of the best All-Star games in the past few years, thats for sure.

    I also enjoyed the mic in goalie feature, haha. Not bad this year, not bad.

    Hosea C

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