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The All-Star Game is in the books and congratulations to the Atlantic Division. Have fun splitting up that million-dollar check fellas.
Before we put all of our focus on the homestretch of the NHL regular season let’s take time to acknowledge some of the All-Star Game’s best and brightest, and even one moment from earlier this week that left a player seeing stars.
Most Surprising Skills Competition Moment: Elias Pettersson
Look, I’m well aware of Elias Pettersson’s goal-scoring capabilities. It has made him virtually the only untouchable person in the entire Vancouver Canucks organization right now. I did not expect him to win the hardest shot competition.
Yeah, the old guard has ridden off into the sunset. Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber aren’t around to duke it out with some dueling 105+ MPH bombs.
Maybe it’s because he plays on the Canadian left coast, but I didn’t realize Pettersson had bulked up enough to lean into a clapper and rip it north of a 100.
But he did.
I probably would’ve had my money on Ovechkin to launch a howitzer for the win, but then I would’ve been wrong.
Least Surprising Skills COmpetition Moment: Connor McDavid
On the flip side, was anyone even remotely shocked that Connor McDavid went 4-for-4 in the accuracy shooting contest?
No. That’s a rare accomplishment, but I know as soon as I saw him do it in just under 9.5 seconds, I just thought, “Yeah, that makes sense.”
I think he could’ve gotten under 9 seconds had he not dusted a few of those pucks off before launching them.
“I Think I Felt That” Moment Of The Week: Jacob Trouba
Man, oh, man. If you felt a sudden pain in your solar plexus on Monday night, thank Jacob Trouba.
He planted Nazem Kadri of the Calgary Flames with one of the hardest hits I’ve seen in quite some time on Monday evening at Madison Square Garden.
Then, he threw down with Dillon Dube who came to Kadri’s rescue.
Someone must’ve taken a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to that hit because that thing was squeaky clean. The officials saw it that way too. Would you believe when everything was said and done the Rangers wound up with a powerplay? That’s how it worked out. Toruba and Dube were both dealt fighting majors, while Dube got a minor for instigating and misconduct.
Best Way To Get Mileage Out Of An Outdated Jersey: This Islanders Fan
It happens every few years, and 2023 was one of those years, where an All-Start gets traded after rosters have been announced. Perhaps most famously was the time the NHL definitely didn’t try to keep John Scott out of the 2016 All-Star Game in Nashville.
This year, Bo Horvat was the player who had been selected to represent the Vancouver Canucks with the Pacific Division but was traded to the New York Islanders and the Metropolitan Division.
For some reason, this becomes a major talking point even though it really isn’t that complicated. The league simply had him play with the Pacific Division to keep teams nice and even.
No fuss, no muss.
However, these kinds of deals mean that some fans who shelled out hundreds of clams for a jersey are left with the outdated sweater of a guy who no longer plays for their team.
One of the players going the opposite direction in the Bo Horvat deal was winger Anthony Beauvillier. An Islanders fan who had one of his jerseys did a little DIY work and morphed it into a makeshift Bo Horvat replica jersey.
Not exactly seamless, but when you pay retail price for a jersey, you want to get your money’s worth,
Most Rejuvenated By The All-Star Game: Matthew Tkachuk
There aren’t too many things cooler than representing the home team at an All-Star Game. This year, Matthew Tkachuk got that opportunity and he made the most of it.
Tkachuk played on a line with his brother, Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk, to help lift the Atlantic Division to a victory that, in retrospect, we all should’ve seen coming on paper alone.
That division is loaded.
Still, Tkachuk stole the show, posting 7 points across the two games including a hat trick in the final against the Central Division All-Stars. That performance netted him MVP honors
Tkachuk got a car as part of the deal, but he reportedly gave that to his grandma after the game.
Maybe that gave Tkachuk a bit of good karma, because, in his first game after the All-Star break, Tkachuk had a massive hand in throttling the Cats’ cross-state rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning, 7-1.
He had 2 goals and 3 assists in the game for a — checks math — 5-point evening. Not a bad start if he wants to top his 104-point 2021-22 campaign. He’s sitting at 71 points with 32 games left on the schedule.
Best Use Of Dunk Tanks: Splash Shot
If I’m being honest — and I am being honest — I don’t like the gimmicky direction of skills competitions in general. It bugs me that the breakaway contest turned from a competition to see who had the silliest mitts, to one where see who can bust out the most props.
It’s more of a Carrot Top impression contest than a breakaway contest at this point.
That said, I kind of dug Splash Shot.
Yeah, it’s super gimmicky. I mean, we had guys shooting pucks at surfboards. We get it! The All-Star Game was in South Florida!
But mixing an accuracy contest with some dunk tanks was at least the kind of a gimmick that made me say, “Alright, maybe I’ve got to take a look at this.”
Here’s a taste. If you ever wanted to see Cale Makar try to drop Adam Fox into a tank of water (that’s an oddly specific wish) this was your event.
You can’t fault the league for trying something new. I assume Splash Shot was a one-and-done event because hypothermia might be an issue if they try it on the shores of Lake Ontario next year in Toronto.
We’ve reached the end, folks. Meet back here next week to hand out some more (figurative) hardware. If you see anything award-worthy in the meantime don’t hesitate to send it my way on the ol’ Twitter machine: @Matt_Reigle.