NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 30:  Tyler Seguin #91 of the Dallas Stars competes in the Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay during the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Skill Competition at Bridgestone Arena on January 30, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Sanford Myers/Getty Images)
Getty

Here are the events the NHL’s All-Stars will participate in at the skills competition

2 Comments

The NHL’s All-Star weekend in Los Angeles is here, and the festivities all begin on Friday night with the unveiling of the top-100 players in NHL history.

On Saturday, the NHL’s current All-Stars hit the ice to show off their talents in the Coors Light NHL All-Star Skills Competition as the teams from the four divisions go head-to-head.

This year’s competition includes many of the events you’re familiar with from previous years, as well as one new event.

Looking at the roster of participants the must-see events would seem to be the hardest shot competition that will feature an Alex Ovechkin vs. Shea Weber matchup (P.K. Subban is also in that event), as well as a fastest skater heat that will see Nathan MacKinnon go up against Connor McDavid.

Below is the complete roster for all of the skills competition events, as well as a brief description of each event.

Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay

Event: Seven skaters and a goalie from each team compete in five challenges that include one-timers, passing puck control, stick-handling and a goalie goals. Each skill must be completed by the player responsible for it before the next player can attempt theirs. The team with fasted time in each heat wins one point, while the team with the fastest overall time gets a bonus point.

The participants

Central Division

One timers: Duncan Keith, Ryan Suter, Vladimir Tarasenko

Passer: Nathan MacKinnon

Passing: Jonathan Toews

Puck Control: Tyler Seguin

Stick-handling: Patrick Kane

Goalie Goals: Devan Dubnyk

Pacific Division

One timers: Joe Pavelski, Ryan Kesler, Jeff Carter

Passer: Bo Horvat

Passing: Drew Doughty

Puck Contro: Cam Fowler

Stick-handling: Johnny Gaudreau

Goalie Goals: Mike Smith

Atlantic Division

One timers: Erik Karlson, Vincent Trocheck, Kyle Okposo

Passer: Victor Hedman

Passing: Frans Nielsen

Puck Control: Brad Marchand

Stick-handling: Auston Matthews

Goalie goalis: Carey Price

Metropolitan Division

One timers: Seth Jones, Alex Ovechkin, Wayne Simmonds

Passer: Ryan McDonagh

Passing: John Tavares

Puck Control: Justin Faulk

Stick-handling: Sidney Crosby

Goalie goals: Braden Holtby

Honda NHL Four Line Challenge

Event: This is a new event at the 2017 skills competition. Here is the official description from the NHL:

Each shooter will shoot from one of four shooting positions; near blue line, center line, far blue line and far goal line. The first shooter from each team takes two shots from the near blue line in an attempt to score goals in either the upper left or upper right corner of the net. Successful shots score one point for their team. The second shooter from each team takes two shots from center ice in an attempt to score goals in one of the four corners of the net. Successful shots in the lower corners score one point and successful shots in the upper corners score three points for their team. The third shooter from each team takes two shots from the far blue line in an attempt to score a goal in one of the four corners of the net or the five hole. Successful shots in the lower corners or five hole score one point and successful shots in the upper corners score five points for their team. The fourth shooter from each team takes two shots from the far goal line in an attempt to score a goal in the five hole. Successful shots score 10 points for their team. Captains can substitute the fourth shooter with a goalie. A successful shot by a goalie is awarded 20 points for their team.

The team with the most points at the end earns a point for their team.

The participants

Atlantic Division: Central Division: Ryan Suter, Tyler Seguin, P.K. Subban, Nathan MacKinnon

Pacific Division: Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Bo Horvat

Atlantic Division: Nikita Kucherov, Erik Karlsson, Vincent Trocheck, Shea Weber

Metropolitan Division: Ryan McDonagh, Wayne Simmonds, Taylor Hall, Seth Jones

DraftKings NHL Accuracy Shooting

The Event: Two players from each team will attempt to hit four 15-inch diameter targets located in each corner of the net. The shooter to hit all four targets in the shortest time period wins. The winner from each match up earns a point for their team, while the player that wins with the fastest overall time gets a bonus point. If anybody beats Daniel Sedin‘s record of hitting all four targets in 7.3 records they also earn their team an additional bonus point.

The participants

Atlantic Division vs. Metropolitan Division

Kyle Okposo vs. John Tavares

Auston Matthews vs. Sidney Crosby

Central Division vs. Pacific Division

Patrik Laine vs. Connor McDavid

Patrick Kane vs. Jeff Carter

Bridgestone NHL Faster Skater

The event: The track for the head-to-head races is the rink split in half lengthways. The skater with the fastest time in the head-to-head races will skate a full lap of the outside of the rink in an attempt to break Dylan Larkin‘s record of 13.172 seconds.  The winner of each match scores one point, the team with the fastest skater scores a bonus, and if anybody breaks Dylan Larkin’s record their team will be awarded a bonus point.

The participants

Atlantic Division vs. Metropolitan Division

Brad Marchand vs. Cam Atkinson

Nikita Kucherov vs. Taylor Hall

Central Division vs. Pacific Division

Vladimir Tarasenko vs. Bo Horvat

Nathan MacKinnon vs. Connor McDavid

Oscar Mayer NHL Hardest Shot

The Event: Pretty self explanatory. Who can shoot the puck the hardest?

The participants

Atlantic Division vs. Metropolitan Division

Victor Hedman vs. Seth Jones

Shea Weber vs. Alex Ovechkin

Central Division vs. Pacific Division

Patrik Laine vs. Brent Burns

P.K. Subban vs. Drew Doughty

Discover NHL Shootout

The event: The nine skaters and two goaltenders from the top scoring team in each conference will participate, with the captains of each team picking an additional player from the losing team, designated as “discover puck players,” in each conference to participate. Each goal scored will count for one point, while goals scored by “discover puck players” will count as two points.

Watch Live: 2017 NHL All-Star Game

Lightning, Islanders make East playoff races even more confusing

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes the third period save as Ryan Strome #18 of the New York Islanders looks for a rebound at the Barclays Center on November 1, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

Whenever you groan at what seems like a quiet trade market, take a step back and ask yourself this: “Who is really out of it?”

For a while there, it felt reasonable to dismiss the chances of teams like the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. Now? There’s probably only a handful of teams that can really be comfortable, at this very point, with calling themselves sellers.

The Islanders took care of their business with a 3-1 win against the fading (probably selling?) Detroit Red Wings, even with Petr Mrazek making a save like this.

Meanwhile, Ben Bishop might just be putting his game together (while Nikita Kucherov‘s game remains very much together) as the Tampa Bay Lightning throttled the Edmonton Oilers 4-1. Bishop might just end up being indispensable – or at least not worth trading – as he’s on a five-game winning streak.

With those wins, the races for the last seemingly available Eastern Conference playoff spots just get that much muddier.*

Third place in the Atlantic: Maple Leafs – 67 points in 59 games, 28 wins, 27 ROW

Second wild card: Panthers – 66 points in 58 GP, 28 W, 25 ROW

Bruins – 66 points in 59 GP, 30 W, 28 ROW
Islanders – 66 points in 59 GP, 28 W, 27 ROW
Flyers – 63 points in 59 GP, 28 W, 23 ROW
Lightning – 62 points in 59 GP, 27 W, 25 ROW
Sabres – 62 points in 60 GP, 26 W, 25 ROW

Wow, that’s crazy-close. Naturally, teams like the Islanders and Flyers lack the luxury of having a third spot in reasonable reach – unless things get truly wild – but that’s quite the congested group of playoff hopefuls.

And, sure, the Bolts are among those facing longer odds, but the way things keep swinging wildly this season, who knows? Especially with a team with a track record of success and high expectations like the Lightning.

* – We’ll arbitrarily cut off the East race at the Devils, but just in case you’re wondering, they have 60 points, the Red Wings have 58 and the Hurricanes have 56. Also, the Ottawa Senators hold the second spot in the Atlantic with 70 points and the Montreal Canadiens lead the division with 72, so that group could see quite a bit of movement over the last quarter of the season.

Forsberg’s hat trick, own-goal highlights Predators’ wild OT loss to Flames

4 Comments

If you want to summarize the kind of night the Nashville Predators experienced, you could do worse than to draw parallels to Filip Forsberg‘s experiences.

The highs were quite high, you see. Forsberg & Co. carved away at the Calgary Flames’ 4-1 lead as his hat trick (see above) eventually gave the Predators a fleeting 5-4 edge.

We all should have seen more drama coming … and it did. Forsberg ended up being at the wrong place at the wrong time in overtime; the Flames’ 6-5 overtime winner ended up going off of his foot. Ouch.

Mark Giordano ended up being credited with that goal. The game was just a barn-burner.

While it was an up-and-down night for both the Flames and Predators, Pekka Rinne‘s evening was pretty much uniformly dismal.

Rinne was pulled early in the second period after giving up four goals on 13 shots, making way for Juuse Saros (who actually ended up gtting tagged with the loss).

The Flames can breathe a sigh of relief after winning the game despite coughing up a big lead, improving to 64 points and strengthening their grip on the second wild card spot. That “charity point” comes in handy for Nashville, leaving the Predators with 65 points and a game in hand on the Flames.

Serious performance: Blackhawks gain on Wild thanks to Toews’ five points

7 Comments

If the Chicago Blackhawks are going to make up some serious ground and overtake the Minnesota Wild for the Central Division title, they’ll need wins like these.

It’s only fitting that “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews did the heavy lifting, generating a hat trick and two assists as the Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-3 on Tuesday.

Yes, Toews was involved in every goal. And yes, the Blackhawks won this one in regulation after beating the Wild in overtime last time around. It’s a nice swing for Chicago:

Central Division title chase

1. Wild – 84 points in 59 games (39 wins, 36 ROW)
2. Blackhawks – 79 points in 60 games (37 wins, 35 ROW)

Yeah, that’s still a substantial edge for Minnesota … but this is a significant swing.

Even beyond the name recognition that comes with Toews & Co., the Blackhawks’ push shouldn’t be surprising. They’re red-hot in February so far, going 7-1-0 despite playing seven of eight on the road (strangely losing that lone home contest).

The Wild have played reasonably well in their own right, yet this loss sends them into a bye week with some frustration … and maybe some questions about whether they can hold the Blackhawks off.

Also, tonight marked a nice milestone for Joel Quenneville:

Matthews, Leafs get last laugh in OT vs. Laine and the Jets

1 Comment

Hockey fans tend to get their radars up about over-hyping things, particularly promising rookies.

Is it hasty, then, to wonder if there’s something to a rivalry between Auston Matthews (and the Maple Leafs) vs. Patrik Laine (plus the Jets)? If nothing else, the two have come up big in two very exciting games.

Back in October, Laine generated a hat trick as the Jets beat the Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime. This time around, it was another 5-4 overtime decision … only Matthews and the Maple Leafs took this round.

This isn’t to take anything away from Laine’s performance, mind you. He scored two goals on Tuesday, becoming the rare modern rookie to muster 30 goals. He reminded hockey fans that he only needs the smallest window to make you pay with his deadly, world-class shot.

MORE on that goal and the violence that ensued here.

But Matthews wouldn’t be denied, either, and fittingly did so in a quieter fashion. (Virtually everyone seems a little quieter when Laine’s around, it seems.)

The Maple Leafs’ outstanding rookie managed three assists in this game, giving him 52 points in 59 games. He also has six points in a three-game run and eight in his past five.

Laine? He now has 54 points in 55 games, extending is own point streak to five games (seven goals, three assists).

In other words, it’s really close … just like the games when these two budding stars (and their young, promising teammates) meet.

You might even be tempted to believe the hype.