Saturday night in Nashville, the NHL All-Stars got together for the Skills Competition. I'm going to be honest, I like this stuff every bit as much as I tend to like the game. It's just fun to watch the best in the world just showing off practice skills. So how did things turn out? I'm glad you asked!
Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater
Scoring Format: Four head-to-head races worth 1 point each. Fastest overall skater earns a bonus point
Heat 1: Dylan Larkin smokes Roman Josi by a bunch because Larkin is great.
Heat 2: Brandon Saad outraces Matt Duchene
Heat 3: Taylor Hall doesn't almost fall down and beats Erik Karlsson
Heat 4: Kris Letang over Dustin Byfuglien
Larkin wins the bonus point for being the only player to get under 13 seconds and gets to take a bonus lap for it. During that bonus lap, he beat the 20-year old record for fastest ever lap, previously held by Mike Gartner. The kid had a slip and he still blazed around the ice like a blur.
You can also watch the full run here from NBCSN. Its' fun to watch the first run where he blows Josi away because when all was said and done, Josi was the 2nd-fastest skater in the entire competition. Larkin was just that much better than the field.
Team Score: 5-1 Eastern Conference
Honda NHL Breakaway Challenge
Scoring Format: The player who gets the most votes earns one point for his team.
East: Brandon Saad (Columbus), Evgeny Kuznetsov (Washington Capitals), and P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens). Cory Schneider (New Jersey Devils) will man the net.
West: James Neal (Nashville), Matt Duchene (Colorado), and Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks), while Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings) will play in goal.
Since this is essentially the dunk contest of the NHL where the rules don't count and it's all about the showmanship, it's hard to describe everything that happened. Saad was kind of boring, Neal snuck a second puck in, Kuznetsov played it straight, Duchene put on a cowboy hat and tried to whip the puck around on his stick to start things off. PK Subban did a way better version of puck-juggling than what Saad tried, even kicking it once. Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski brought their kids out wearing Lil versions of their jerseys and it was amazing.
For the second round, Saad was boring again, Neal played Dierks Bentley for the crowd, Kuznetsov tried to remind people of Ovechkin, Duchene scored a nice between-the-legs one-hander, Subban came out as Jagr and gave the salute, Burns put on the Chewbacca mask and celebrated like a Tusken Raider.
Burns should have won, but Subban was a great choice too.
Team Score: 6-1 Eastern Conference
DraftKings NHL Accuracy Shooting Challenge
Scoring Format: Four head-to-head matchups worth 1 point each and one bonus point going to the fastest player to hit all four targets overall.
Matchup 1: Tavares beats Kane
Matchup 2: Pavelski outduels Bergeron
Matchup 3: Perry faster than Giroux
Matchup 4: Malkin gets cocky and still beats Benn
Malkin was 3-for-3 and paused to get the crowd cheering and then missed shot #4. He probably wins the overall if not for that, but I loved seeing it. John Tavares wins the bonus point for the East.
Team Score: 9-3 Eastern Conference
Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay
Scoring Format: Two head-to-head heats worth one point each with a bonus point for the team with the fastest time.
|Heat 1||Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
|One-timer Right Shooters||Aaron Ekblad (Florida), Erik Karlsson (Ottawa) Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning)||Shea Weber (Nashville), Drew Doughty (Los Angeles), Corey Perry (Anaheim)|
|One-timer Passer||Patrice Bergeron (Boston)||Taylor Hall (Edmonton)|
|Mini-net Passer||Nicklas Backstrom (Washington)||Daniel Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)|
|Puck Control Relay||Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes)||Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames)|
|Stick Handling||Claude Giroux (Philadelphia)||Patrick Kane (Chicago)|
|Goalie Goals||Braden Holtby (Washington)||Pekka Rinne (Nashville)|
|One-timer Left Shooters||Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers), Leo Komarov (Toronto Maple Leafs), Ryan O'Reilly (Buffalo Sabres)||Mark Giordano (Calgary), James Neal (Nashville), Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis)|
|One-timer Passer||Jaromir Jagr (Florida)||Matt Duchene (Colorado)|
|Mini-net Passer||Evgeny Kuznetsov (Washington)||Jamie Benn (Dallas)|
|Puck Control Relay||Kris Letang (Pittsburgh)||Roman Josi (Nashville)|
|Stick Handling||Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings)||Tyler Seguin (Dallas)|
|Goalie Goals||Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay)||Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota Wild)|
Heat 1: Team East wins by a bunch.
Heat 2: Team West rips through it to ruin a good run by Larkin's East squad.
Team Score: 10-5 East
AMP Energy NHL Hardest Shot
Scoring Format: Four head-to-head matchups worth 1 point each. Hardest overall shot earns a bonus point
Matchup 1: Byfuglien over Ekblad (99.6mph)
Matchup 2: Malkin slaps it past Seguin (97mph)
Matchup 3: Stamkos outduels fan-favorite John Scott (103.9mph)
Matchup 4: Weber wins it easily over Subban (108.1mph)
Home-town radar gun, eh? Yeah maybe not.
Team Score: 12-8 for the East
Discover NHL Shootout
Scoring Format: Three two-minute rounds have each team scoring 1 point for every shootout goal they scored. Teams get 2 points for goals scored with the Discover pucks (given to shooters 1 and 3).
Yeah this thing was a big 'ol mess in terms of recapping. The first round featured two goals for Malkin and none for anybody else. Round two featured a bunch more goals, including a pretty snipe by Stamkos and two goals for Bergeron. Round three had two Larkin goals and John Scott trying the spin-o-rama, so it was the best.
Final Team Score: 29-12 for the East.
Skills Comp MVP (as named by me) - Dylan Larkin
Final Thoughts - John Scott made the event more fun than it would have been without him and Lil Burns was adorable. A+ event with B-level coverage.