2019 NHL All-Star Game News and Commentary

Photo credit: @NHL

By Pearl Allison Lo

SAN JOSE — The “hub of innovation,” as proclaimed by Commissioner Gary Bettman earlier in the day to media, kicked off 2019 NHL All-Star weekend for the first time since 1997, with the Skills Competition Friday.

Players who did not make Media Day on Wednesday were made available to the press before the Skills showcase. These participants included Braden Holtby (WSH), John Carlson (WSH), Marc-Andre Fleury (VGK), Kris Letang (PIT), Drew Doughty (LAK) and Nathan MacKinnon (COL). Sidney Crosby was absent due to illness and did not play in the competition.

Doughty, set to play in Accuracy Shooting, on his chances, replied, “I doubt I’ll win. Yeah, I don’t know. I have a decent shot, but I can say I’ve never just stood in front of the net and shots pucks at targets before, so this’ll be my first time, and I’m sure the crowd will probably be booing me, so I’ll probably be super nervous, and embararssed a little bit…Hopefully the shoot goes well.” Doughty ended up in third out of eighth place with a time of 14.423 seconds.   

First time NHL All-Star Carlson’s game was the hardest shot. Before, he said, “I’m looking forward to giving it a try. I haven’t ever been registered before, so I think we all have a chance this year with some of the guys that are in here…I like watching all of them (the competitions). I think they all showcase the talent of these great players in the league and that’s what it’s about and I like seeing some of the ways that our guys can handle the puck.” Carlson was the $25,000 winner, finishing with the top two quickest shots at 102.8mph and 100.6mph.

MacKinnon, an All-Star Captain for the first time, was on the shelf as well for the contest. HE responded, “I was forced, but I love coming here. It’s still fun. I’m still the captain…It’s just a bruise on the inside of my foot…we know it’s not broken…I’ll be good to go against Vancouver (February 2). Regarding not participating in the fastest skater competition, McKinnon replied, “I get killed every year…Connor’s so fast…McDavid won his third straight fastest skater contest with a time of 13.378 seconds.

The replacement for MacKinnon was the first woman to ever compete in the Skills match. Kendall Coyne from the U.S. Women’s National Team skated first and beat out Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes. With chants of “USA,” Coyne gushed she was “super, super excited, super, super honored. Thanks for the NHL’s support.” Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames commented, “She was fast. I didn’t expect that…It’s pretty impressive, obviously…she’s American, which is even better.”

Going back to MacKinnon on his favorite skill, he said, “probably the shooting. I always have to do the skating, but I’d love to do the shooting one year for sure.”

Regarding his teammates’ chances in the skills competition, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, MacKinnon analyzed, “Gabe has to do puck handling, so I don’t know. I don’t like his chances. He’s more of a forechecker.” For Mikko, he verified, “He’s got over 50 assists, so I think he’ll do pretty good at passing.”  Landeskog finished fifth out of eighth in puck control with 33.425 seconds and Rantanen got second out of eighth with 2 minutes and 17.379 seconds.

Sharks’ defenseman Erik Karlsson did participate in the All-Star Skills, despite his status being questionable due to recent injury. On being able to participate, he replied, “It’s great, especially being here in San Jose, I think it’s a great thing for this fan base and for this organization and community, so I’m happy I can be here.”  He finished seventh out of eighth in Premier Passer with 1 minute and 58.824 seconds. Teammate Joe Pavelski described the event well, “It seems like one of those events where you need a little momentum going in, and if you get a couple early, that’s good, if not, it’s pretty tough.”

An especially great moment of the competition for the hometown crowd, was when Toronto Maple Leaf’s Auston Matthews, playing in the last event of Accuracy Shooting, removed his jersey to reveal that of his now teammate and former Sharks’ legend Patrick Marleau, which he wore while partaking in the event.” Afterwards, he, along with San Jose’s representative of Karlsson, Pavelski and Brent Burns, took a picture with Burns’ and Pavelski’s boys.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s