Photo credit: @ScoutingTheRefs
By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE — The 2019 NHL All Star Skills Competition featured six events in front of a big crowd at SAP Center Friday evening. In the first event, the Fastest Skater, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid won for the third time in a row, this time with a time of 13.378. In second place, Buffalo’s Jack Eichel completed the course in 13.582, with the Islanders’ Matthew Barzal third at 13.778. The first skater in the competition was Kendall Coyne Schofield of the US Women’s National Team. Her time was 14.346.
The second event was demonstrated by Rebecca Johnston of the Canadian Women’s team. The Puck Control race started with a stick handling test, followed by a puck carrying exercise though cones. The third test was to put the puck through three variable gates. One of three gates in each pillar would light up as the skater finished the preceding test. At the end, they had to put the puck in a regular net. Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau took the prize with a time of 27.045. Chicago’s Patrick Kane skated first but came in second with a time of 28.611. Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux finished third with a time of 30.270.
In the Save Streak competition, each goaltender would face a shot from each skater on an opposing team, with the order of go to repeat if the goalie stopped a shot by a Divisional Captain. If he did not stop that shot, his turn was up. Henrik Lundqvist went last and won with 12 saves against the Atlantic Division.
Pekka Rinne was in the net first, making two saves in a row but no longer streak than that against the Pacific Division. Andrei Vasilevsky made 8 saves before Seth Jones scored from the Metro Division. John Gibson made 3 saves against the Central Division. Devan Dubnyk made 7 saves against the Pacific Division. Braden Holtby defended against the Atlantic Division but did not make more than 2 saves in a row. Jimmy Howard made 2 saves against the Metropolitan Division. Marc-Andre Fleury got the extra shots by making a save on the Central Dvivision captain, but he let in the very next shot and did not reach the eight-save threshold set by Vasilevsky.
Briana Decker of the USA Women’s National Team demonstrated the Premier Passer race. Contestants had to hit the sticks of three cutout skaters with a pass, then put pucks in four mini nets with a saucer pass over a low barrier. Finally, the skater had to hit five of six targets which would light up, signalling him to shoot at that one. If he did not hit the target before the light changed, it did not count. Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl won it with a time of 1:09.088. The second best time was 1:18.530 from Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, and the third best was St. Louis’s Ryan O’Reilly with 1:25.897.
Washington’s John Carlson won the Hardest Shot contest with a 102.8 mph shot. San Jose’s Brent Burns came next with a 100.6 mph shot, while Columbus’s Seth Jones was third with a 99 mph shot. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos was the only other shooter and his best was 96.2 mph. San Jose’s Sharky won the mascot hardest shot with 85.2 mph.
The Final Event was Accuracy Shooting. Renata Fast from the Canadian Women’s National Team demonstrated the new setup. Instead of plates that break, the targets were LED lit and they only stayed lit for 3 seconds before going dark. Of course, they had to be hit while lit or it did not count. The standing record for five-target accuracy shooting is 11.1. Boston’s David Pastrnak won it this year with a time of 11:309. Kris Letang and Drew Doughty came in second and third with times of 12.693 and 13.591 respectively. San Jose’s Joe Pavelski finished with a respectable 14.423.
The NHL All-Star Game will start at 5:00 PM PT Saturday.